But as of June 6, 1983, also G-Day.
To me, anyway.
That’s when my daughter Greta was born. And I was changed forever.
Of all the possible definitions or descriptions of me, “Dad” is the one I take most seriously. Seriously but also lightly. Dads create the world their kids live in, and I always tried to create a world that was bright and loving and fun.
I wore a full beard for a time when Greta was a baby. I’d rub her bare feet on my bearded face and she’d laugh and laugh. When getting her into her feet jammies for bed, I’d stick the feet part in my ears and pretend I thought it was a stethoscope. I drew a picture of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast and hung it on the fridge and Greta, all of three years old, would stand in front of it and talk to it, with me sitting on the floor close by answering. In my best Beast voice, of course.
“Hi, Beast,” she’d begin. “Hi, Greta,” my Beast would answer. And we’d go from there.
I was off on Wednesdays and we’d spend the day together. She loved the Disney book “The Rescuers” and every Wednesday we would act it out with me narrating and all of her dolls and stuffed animals cast in the various roles. Greta, of course, was the heroine Penny. It would go on for an hour or more and by the time we finished the house would be a mess.
Greta was always with me it seemed. One day, while we rode along in the car, she made up a song. She called it “Daddy Da.” Those two words were also the only lyrics. She sang “Daddy Da” over and over.
Another day she announced, “Because I like peaches so much my nickname should be Peachie.”
The thing is, she didn’t like Peaches at all.
Still, we called her that every now and then, as I did today in a message I sent along with a gift certificate to a Japanese restaurant in Austin, Texas, where she now lives. “Happy birthday, Peachie,” I wrote.
She went to the Pittston YMCA when she was about four. She needed to be five to get into their summer program but they made an exception. It was a morning thing and I’d pick her up at noon. She always came prancing out wearing a big smile with her hair in a pony tail and a drop of water dangling from the tip. I’d get her a grape soda from the vending machine and we’d go have lunch at her Grammy’s.
Greta’s 35 today with a baby of her own, an 18 month old son she named Parker. She decided he would call me Pop Pop. And he does. She gets so excited when he says it and in those moments I known to the depths of me how much she loves me.
But my daughter can never love me as much as I love her. Now that she’s a mommy she understands that.