…I was delivering an orange to my almost-17-year old daughter at Quizno’s where she works. I stepped in, spoke, and she, as always, replied politely. She made her way to me at the front of the work counter where we talked for a minute about incidentals. Knowing she needed to get back to work, I wrapped up the conversation with an update about a future college trip we’re all taking with her. She nodded with approval, then headed back to her work area, which was about 15+ feet away across the entire back of the store.
That’s when it happened – once back at her station, she turned and said to me as innocently and authentically as she did when she was 2, “Thanks, dad. Love you! See you at home.” And she said it loud enough for all the other workers to hear! Truth is, the whole store could have heard. But she didn’t mind a bit. And neither did I!
I had already turned and was facing the door, just about to exit. But I paused and slowed my pace drastically, albeit discreetly, ‘cause I wanted to savor the sound of those words that rang out so proudly. Publicly. Boldly. Unashamedly. I felt like my chest was expanding exponentially on the spot, with my smile right behind it. I’m sure it didn’t show on the outside, but on the inside I was beaming and busting! Of course, acting somewhat suave, I stumbled out the door while responding, “Love you, too!”
Don’t misunderstand this. It’s not that those words “Love you” are rare around our house. Frankly, Bethany says them quite frequently. In fact, I don’t know if she’s ever ended a phone call with one of her parents without saying them, sometimes almost too routinely.
But this time was different. It was just one of those spontaneous outbursts that grabs you and holds you spellbound for a moment. I knew she didn’t have to say it. I knew she wasn’t 2 anymore. Or even 10. I knew she was in front of her co-workers. I knew it wasn’t the culturally cool comment to make to your “old man.” I knew all that and more.
But she knew all those things, too. And she still made sure I knew that I was loved. Without reservation or conditions. Clearly. Loudly.
Thanks, Bethany! I love being your dad!