A Little Girl Grows Up

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We met six-and-a-half years ago at Pizza King in Longview on a spring Saturday afternoon. She had a cheese pizza. Mine was veggie, extra jalapeños. Her blond hair and cherubic face with flawless skin captured my heart. As we sat down, she held one of the Harry Potter novels in her arms like a shield. She was 10 and eyed me warily. Who is this funny little man coming into my life, she no doubt wondered.

Abbie is the daughter of the woman who would become my wife, aka My Beautiful Mystery Companion. Now she is my daughter as well, and I am blessed.

On Saturday, Abbie turns 17, which seems hardly possible. She is on the cusp of adulthood, getting her driver’s license in a couple weeks, and visiting college campuses. It is boggling to realize she will be enrolled in college in about 21 months. The years just fly by, like those pages flying off a calendar in a 1940s film.

On Friday, as is our habit, I bought her breakfast and took her to school. And as I have done for the past six day-before-birthdays, I told her, “Abster, this is the last day you will ever be 16. Make the most of it.” As always, she smiled and rolled her eyes.

Abbie is blonde, blue-eyed, drop-dead beautiful and turns teenage boys’ heads when she walks by. Of course, I want to shoo them off with a broom or possibly a shotgun. She has turned into a serious, organized student who takes classes that neither her mom nor I can be of any help with: pre-calculus, physics, advanced Spanish. If it is English or history, we can be of assistance. But her math and science skills far surpass ours.

She has a fine eye for photography and has been pressed into service at the small private school she attends to shoot many of the photographs for the yearbook. She shot photos for our paper during the Fourth of July weekend, and we ended up using a couple on the front page. She is our go-to person for technology, of course, whether it is figuring out how to do something on our iPhones or getting Netflix to work on the television. Teens seem to have a natural aptitude for this digital world that escapes us older folks.

I have learned over the years to rely on her sense of direction if we are in a large mall (she does like to shop) or trying to get back to a hotel while visiting a metropolis. My BMC and I are worried about how we will find our way around once Abbie is in college, or who will figure out why the wireless printer has suddenly quit working. All I know is that she better answer her phone when we are in distress.

Her best attribute is a huge heart. I worry how many times it will be fractured by folks who are less than kind, or let her down. She is naturally trusting, tries to think the best of everyone, and truly does not have a mean bone in her body.

She is a teenager of course, which means Abster (as I usually call her) has pulled a few less-than-stellar stunts. But it has been relatively minor stuff — far less than many parents must endure. It has been a joy to watch her mature and turn into someone who I know is going to make a mark on this world in some fashion.

Right now she plans to become a lawyer, after spending the summer working at a law firm. She will argue with a rock, I joke, so this might be a good idea. I just know she will succeed at whatever she attempts, because of her strong will.

Abbie has endured some terrible tragedies in her young life, far more than someone of her age should have to face. It has of course permanently marked her, but if anything she has become even more resilient, stronger in her faith and able to continue down a good path. It pains me terribly what she has had to go through.

I don’t tell her often enough how proud I am of her, how happy that she came into my life, and what she means to me. She and her mother, my BMC, have enlarged my life beyond measure. I am a lucky guy.

Happy Birthday, Abster. Love, Dad.

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