My father is one of my favorite people in the world. I understand him completely, probably because I am an exact clone. Same temper, same need to have everything just so, same dominant personality, same sense of humor, same deeply hidden soft side. It wasn't always this way... finding that softness in him wasn't easy as a sensitive young girl. But I grew up and with me grew my understanding of how my father ticks. And I am undeniably, and proudly, just like him.
Shannon and I were together for over 9 years before I finally was able to tell my father face to face that we were a couple. I had assumed we had a don't ask, don't tell policy in the family. Seriously, how could he not know? She and I had lived together, attended every family function together, bought our home and owned our pets together, for nearly a decade. He's not dumb. But he was very unassuming, and genuinely did not even think anything was not exactly the way we presented it - as a close, platonic friendship. I remember, this past summer, finally building up the courage to sit down with him and tell him the truth. Our baby was well on her way and it was past time to let my father know (mom's known for a long time, and faithfully kept my secret). I expected anger, denial, disgust, even name calling...which he (and I) are sometimes prone to do. But he looked at me and said, "You're my daughter and I love you. If you're happy, I'm happy." I cried, mostly because I was so surprised at how simple and effortless his love and acceptance was. I cried, somewhat because I was ashamed at how badly I had underestimated him. I cried because I am so, so lucky.
And when we brought Annabelle over to my parents' house on our way home from the hospital so she could meet her grandparents, I will never as long as I live forget the gentle way my father took Shannon's face in both his hands and kissed her cheek, telling her thank you and that he loved her. He didn't want to hold the baby that day. "She's too little," he said. "I didn't even hold you or your brother when you were that little."
But two weeks later, at my nephew's birthday party, he decided he was ready to hold her, with a lot of pushing from me. This is the photo I took of the two of them. It is now my most favorite photo of all time. Who knew your heart could be captured on film?
We're a month in now. He holds her often, loves to just watch her face and listen to her grunt and toot. He keeps her by his side whenever we go to visit and has nicknamed her Shorty. They even napped together the other day when I went over to help my mom. I really can't say it enough... I am so, so lucky.