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Viginia Dawn

A Father's Lament

By The Bantering WelshmanPublished 2 years ago 12 min read
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Sun rises over the Blue Ridge Mountains, photo by M.S. Humphreys

WARNING! If you are looking for a happy story, don't read this one!

Daddy!

I was a different person 14 years ago. Now, I’m unrecognizable as the man I was before you came into my life. I remember when I first learned of you. That was my happiest moment until then and that happiness has been repeated a thousand-thousand times since – every time I touch your silky caramel hair, when you put your hand in mine, or when I hear “daddy” usher from your lips.

I knew you before you were born, even when I wasn’t much older than you are now. I always believed there could be no tighter bond than a father and his daughter. Even as a teenager in high school, I longed for the day I would hold my little Virginia Dawn. Those two words just go together like the marriage of heart-felt lyrics to the perfect melody. The image it conjures of a morning sun rising above misty Blue Ridge Mountains is life art. That is why I gave you that name, because I knew you were beautiful before you were born.

Of course, at home, I call you Jenny and your mother says Gzen-ny in her thick Southern French accent. I tried learning French, to be a better son-in-law, but the language never suited me. You, on the other hand, were emersed in it from a young age and have mastered French as a native tongue. But don’t get too sneaky with your old-man young lady! I may not speak French, but I know enough to understand when you and your mother are talking about me.

I just made it to Kuwait in route to Iraq, when your mother told me I was going to be a father. You were the answer to my prayers, but it pained me to know that I wouldn’t be there as you grew in your mother’s womb. We calculated your expected due date, and it was for then that I planned my mid tour leave. I couldn’t stand the thought that I might miss your first breath. You were supposed to be delivered by Caesarean section, but when you heard your daddy was coming home, you came out of your own accord. I traveled for 30 hours, and I still had the desert dust on me when nurses ushered me into the room seconds before you entered this world.

You were born on my dad’s birthday. How I wish he could have been there to see you. How I wish you could have known him, and he know what you have grown into. He would be so very proud. I know your mamaw is. You are such a blessing to her. You know as a young mother she lost two baby girls. In you she has passed down her southern home craft. What you have gleaned from Mama over the years has made you a unique young lady among your peers. A handsome young man is going to be very fortunate to have you one day, but he will have to get past your dear old daddy first. I won’t give you away easily.

Going away; Growing Together

I just couldn’t get enough of you the two weeks after you were born. I was so worried that when I had to leave again, you would grow to forget my face and my voice while I was away. I just couldn’t imagine being a stranger to you again; it was breaking my heart knowing that Uncle Sam was calling me back to finish my obligation. When the day regrettably came, teary-eyed, I boarded that plane to return for 6 more months in a war zone. Upon finally returning home for good, my fears were cast away when in your mother’s arms, you greeted me with that miraculous smile. You remembered your daddy after all. In the early years, there were a few days here and there, maybe a week or two, that I had to leave, but it was still that same miraculous smile that I longed to come back to every single time, and you were always there to welcome me home.

I remember your first word. It wasn’t daddy, but it wasn’t mama either, even though she had six months on me. It was Sky, the name of our fearlessly protective husky mix that rarely left your side. Sky was already 7 years old when you entered her life. At first, I thought she stood by you out of loyalty to me, but I think she thought a little of you as her own puppy. For a long time, she wouldn’t even let Charly, our boxer, get close to you, but she finally relented once you were old enough to run around and play with both of them. Even when arthritis started wearing her down, she still fought through the pain to follow you around. She stared out the window and cried for hours the first time she saw you get on the bus for school. We all cried as a family the day she passed, but even though Sky spent more than half her life with me before you were even born, she was definitely your dog. I was more heartbroken for you than my own loss.

By EAVONE Jazzman on Unsplash

I wanted you to learn the piano, something I wish I learned as a child. Mama always said she wanted to teach me, but I resisted. Just like your dad, you were not having it either. When I told you I used to play saxophone a long time ago, you said that’s what you wanted to play. Of course, you didn’t even know what a saxophone was, but when you saw one for the first time, that fortified your stubborn resolve, and you wouldn’t consider anything else until you learned that marvelous shiny horn with the pearly white buttons. They don’t have a band in grade school here and you can’t find a saxophone instructor for a six-year-old, so your dear old dad had to buy two saxophone’s and relearn music to be your instructor; Thank God for YouTube. Oh, but those times are among my favorite memories, sweetheart, you and I running the dogs and cats out of the house and driving your poor mom crazy until we started sounding less like a couple mating rhinos and more like musicians.

I never would have guessed that introducing you to a musical instrument would rekindle my own love for the art. Your mamaw finally got more than she wished for by teaching both of us piano. I know that was very special for her. I live for our jam sessions, if you can call a piano-saxophone duet a jam session, but you are far better than me at both. Now you are teaching me the dulcimer and you want to pick up a banjo next. What girl child these days wants to play the banjo?

Skill! Talent! Excellence!

I don’t know where you find the time to be such a talented musician. I guess now that you are too old for Pee Wee Football, and they won’t let you play in high school, you have time for one more project, but there is still soccer and this is your last year for Babe Ruth Baseball. I almost feel a little guilty that I turned you away from basketball at a young age. I never liked the sport, so you didn’t either and this is girls' basketball country for sure. Still, with your natural athletic ability, I’m sure if you decided to take on basketball, you would excel even at that.

By Jon Eckert on Unsplash

Do you remember how I taught you to practice hitting a baseball? I gave you a tobacco stick, and we went out into the driveway. I stood to the side with safety glasses and tossed small stones in the air for you to smack into the field with the tobacco stick. You had a better batting average than any of the boys on your team last year and if I remember correctly, one of the best in the league. I guess this is your last season for Babe Ruth. If you decide to play softball in high school, we'll have to change up your batting stance a little.

I just can’t believe you are starting high school next year. Where does the time go? I know you will adjust well, but it might get harder to maintain that “A” average. Just continue to do your best and I’m sure you will excel. For such a young lady, you are stubborn and opinionated, just like your old man. I’m proud of you for standing your ground, when necessary, but you need to pick your battles and learn that the teacher is always right, even if they are wrong. You can accept their teaching without conforming and time will prove or disprove your point. One day, those minor differences of opinion may be defining moments for you, or they may dissolve into inconsequence, but you are destined to be a leader regardless.

Moving On

I’m so very proud of you sweetheart, but I’m not going to lie. I wish I could turn back time. It pains me more than you can imagine that the day is fast approaching when I will have to let you go. There will be college, a career, another man in your life and likely children of your own in the not too distant future. I’m looking forward to spoiling grandchildren, but I’m sure going to miss you. I know you will always love your dear old dad, and hopefully you won’t be too far from home that you can visit often, but though I would never stand in your way, no doubt something in me will be missing starting the day you set out on your own. No matter how many more we have together, I can never have enough, birthdays, Christmases, trips to the beach, camping trips, days on the lake or in the mountains, jam sessions, ski trips or ball games with you.

I’m so excited to be taking you back to Europe this summer. We took you to Germany once before, but you were only 2 years old and probably don’t remember much about it. It will be a whirlwind trip for sure, but we are going to see Scotland, Ireland and Wales. In Wales you will see the origin of our family name and how our ancestors came from Brittany with William the Conqueror. We’ll spend a few days in Paris, then spend the night on a train to Bari Italy. In Bari, we’ll check our luggage in at the port then spend the day shopping and on the beach of the little Adriatic town. That evening, we’ll go back to the port to check into our room on the ferry that will take us to Dubrovnik, Croatia. You will fall in love with Dubrovnik. It is such a fairytale city surrounded by ancient walls that jut right out of the Adriatic. It’s just beautiful.

By Martin Krchnacek on Unsplash

After a couple days in Dubrovnik, we’ll hop a train up to Prague, Czech Republic to experience yet another fairytale city. There, we’ll take in a marionette show and walk across the Saint Charles bridge to tour the castle. We’ll finish up our pan-European trip in Bavaria to enjoy beer and bratwurst with the German family I lived with 20 years ago when I was stationed in Grafenwoehr. I’m sure you will sleep the whole way home on our flight from Munich back to East Tennessee. I’m sure we all will, but you will dream pleasantly, and the memories will last a lifetime.

Heartbreak!

I want you to know that you are daddy’s girl, but you are so much more to me than just my daughter. You are my saving grace. You are my angel. My life was off track before you came along, and I would be incomplete without you. You can never know how much you mean to me. You can never know... because you never were.

You never breathed the air for the first time. You never suckled from your mother’s breast. You never said your first word. You never called me daddy. You never played on a swing. You never learned a musical instrument. You never went to school. You never played sports. You never went to the beach, or the lake or camping. You will never visit Europe. You will never go to high school. You will never learn to drive a car. You will never have a boyfriend, go to prom, graduate, go to college, start a career, get married or have children. You will never have these things because your mother murdered you and expelled you from her womb.

Of course, for years, I didn’t even suspect what she did, and I still can’t prove it – not that it matters in a world where child genocide is a celebrated right – but after nearly a decade and a half, I’ve finally come to grips with the truth. I should have known something was amiss before I deployed. She had a changed spirit toward me, my family, our friends and neighbors. She had a new friend, an attractive, physical therapist and personal trainer that lived a few blocks away from our Colorado Springs home. I met him a few times while walking our dogs, but I never felt threatened by him, not even when I learned he worked out at the same gym as my self-serving wife.

She stopped going to church with me, a church we found together, reverting to the devout hatred for God she converted from before we were married. The only thing she ever had faith in was science and after three years of excelling at a mechanical engineering degree program with a focus in near-space technology, she suddenly changed her major to physical therapy. I didn’t understand then, but I supported her wishes.

"I'm glad I lost the baby... I didn't feel like my body was my own anymore."

Three days after arriving in Kuwait, I called her and that’s when she told me she was pregnant. She sounded elated. We had been trying since we were married, five years earlier, and our efforts appeared to be finally paying off. She was happy, and I was happy. That phone call was the last I remember that we were seemingly happy together, even though we were so far apart. A month later, just under six weeks of pregnancy, word came to me through the command that my wife had suffered a miscarriage so severe that she lost a lot of blood and had to be hospitalized. I was devastated that we lost our baby, but I was most worried about my wife... until I could speak with her.

“I’m glad I lost the baby," she spat into the phone without remorse, her words striking me like a hammer. "I didn’t feel like my body was my own anymore.” My heart broke then, and it remains broken for you, my lost child, even to this day.

The abortion pill is the combination of two drugs taken between 5 and a half weeks and 9 weeks of pregnancy. The first pill, mifepristone, severs the attachment of the fetus from the mother’s uterus. The second pill, misoprostol, taken six to 48 hours later, causes the uterus to bleed and spasm so to expel the unwanted child. In most cases, when administered under a doctor’s supervision, the unborn is just flushed. Occasionally, there are life threatening complications, especially when the necessary medications are procured and administered under extraordinary circumstances.

You were a wanted child Virginia Dawn. You were wanted, prayed for and loved even before you were conceived. I should be planning your 14th birthday party, but instead, I’m imagining a life unlived. This is the life you may have had. This is the life I dreamed for you. You were the soul I prayed for. You were a crucial piece of what would make me whole. You are missing from me now, so that I will complete my life and die an unfinished man.

The sun will set on my life one day, and I will close my eyes to that final sleep. But Heaven is real, and I know that I will open my eyes again to see for the first time, my lovely Virginia Dawn.

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About the Creator

The Bantering Welshman

M.S. Humphreys is The Bantering Welshman, an East Tennessee native, author, journalist, storyteller, marketing specialist, husband and step father. https://www.instagram.com/thebanteringwelshman/ and http://www.banteringwelshman.com

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