Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Day I Made My Daughter Cry

My daughter, Brenda Ann Moore, was born April 24, 1959. She was our second child having joined her brother, Richard Robert Moore, three years after his birth. Yes, she was a daddy’s girl! Very special to this dad right away. We seemed to have a mutual admiration society going on.

Throughout her life there were the usual pictures taken on events and non-events. Posed shots and unaware shots. Back in 1959 and the early 60’s, the film we used was black and white with flash bulbs to light up the darkness of night and indoor pictures. Quite different from today.

As she grew and understood what we were saying, she would question discipline or my actions concerning her. I would always respond “it’s in the Daddy’s Handbook”. She would disagree with that and always came back with “there is no Daddy’s Handbook!”. I would always reassure her that there was and I consulted it often to find the best path to choose in raising a daughter. After all, it was the first time I had a daughter and I wasn’t sure exactly how to be the best dad in forming her life. This went on for a number of years with our disagreement on whether or not there was a “Daddy’s Handbook”.

In 1980 Brenda was preparing for her wedding to Scott Douglas Ostrander. I began to think back over the years about her life and organized the pictures of her into the various years of her life. Then it hit me! Time to show that there really was a “Daddy’s Handbook”.

I found a beautifully bound book with blank pages engraved in gold marked “private pages”. I would imagine it was intended to be a journal. I had this book engraved in the middle of the cover with the words “DADDY’S HANDBOOK”. At the bottom was engraved “Brenda 4-24-59”.

My wife, Ann, Brenda’s mother, scrolled on the first page “The Daddy’s Handbook”. The next page she scrolled “For the raising of a daughter Brenda Ann Moore Born 4-24-’59”.

On the third page I typed on a card to be fastened to the page the following:

The Daddy’s Handbook contains the wisdom and guidance that a daddy needs in raising his only daughter. It is to be consulted often, sometimes into the early hours of the morning. It takes a daddy with that special sparkle in his eye to be able to read, understand, and use the valuable information contained on these pages. Although some pages appear to be blank to the casual eye, each page can be read very well by that special daddy.

The fourth page starts the pictures with captions giving sage information to help a daughter on her way to a wonderful life. For example, the first one is a picture of her laying in her brother’s arms and is dated May 59. The caption is “A daddy is to provide a loving big brother for a daughter to look up to”.

Page after page shows her development through life with captions to match what the picture may be telling us. Here are a couple to illustrate:

Picture: Big brother and little sister on a couch all dressed up for church. They are looking at each other. Brenda is wearing a bonnet.

Caption: A daddy is allowed to pass pearls of wisdom on to his eldest son so that he may share them with his adoring sister.

Picture: Six kids at a wading pool with Brenda as the only girl. She has only bathing suit bottoms on.

Caption: A daddy is not to encourage topless bathing in mixed company.

This goes on through 65 pictures. At that point I had to put in a card to tell her that from 1965 on was not included in pictures since her daddy was taking slides then and would review the slides to complete the book for her wedding.

The book was then wrapped nicely and a letter was included from me to inform her that “Yes, Brenda, there really is a Daddy’s Handbook”. This was one of her gifts at her bridal shower. You can imagine what happened when she opened that gift. Tears flowed and this has been a cherished possession of hers.

There were 43 more pictures added to the handbook. The last one is of her “husband” and the new bride at their wedding reception. That caption reads “A daddy should provide the best example he can for a daughter to follow and be sure she selects the right person to spend the rest of her life with”. Her mother and I have been married for 53 years now and Brenda and Scott will soon celebrate 29 years together.

On the last page I typed a card which reads:

Dear Brenda,

This chapter of your life is now complete. You will have many exciting and interesting events ahead of you which will make memories that will be remembered for a lifetime.

You have given me great memories which I share with you in this book. There are many that are not included in this handbook. You have given me many occasions to be proud to be your dad. I thank you for being such a wonderful part of my life.

Yes, Brenda, there really is a “DADDY’S HANDBOOK”! How else could I have done such a great job?

Have a great life.

Daddy (signed)

I did a great job, didn't I?


terence said...

What a wonderful thing to do for your daughter.

Julie Hibbard said...

You are one amazing man, Dick Moore! This is so thoughtful and incredibly meaningful!! And a lot of work!!!
I am impressed and a tad envious!
Your children are certainly blessed!!