Our Youngest Daughter Turns 15

by admin | October 25, 2012 4:23 pm

We first met on a springtime Saturday for lunch at Pizza King in Longview, home to my favorite pie — the vegetarian with extra jalapeños. She had the cheese pizza.

She wore her blonde hair in a ponytail, framing her blue eyes and flawless porcelain skin. I can’t remember what she was wearing, but I recall she was reading a Harry Potter book.

It was March 2008. Abbie was 10 at the time. She is the daughter of the woman I fell in love with when I saw her crossing the alley at Green Street, heading to the now-closed coffee shop to make my acquaintance. She was wearing a red raincoat, brown hair flowing every which way in the wind.

I never tire of telling this story. Who wouldn’t? The woman now my wife emailed a few days after turning 50 to tell me she liked reading my column, and she would like to meet for coffee as long as I was unattached.  The one that finally sparked her to write was about unpacking a passel of boxes of books a few weeks after moving to Longview. I was single and said sure, why not? I found out enough by Googling to know I was meeting someone well-educated with a daughter, but that was about it.

Best column I ever wrote, I always say.

I met a lovely, fascinating woman who continues today to be my Beautiful Mystery Companion, a line I stole (though actually mangled) from a Jackson Browne song. We have been together since that day. It has been a long, interesting journey. But back to that lunch in Pizza King.

Now I was meeting Abbie, her daughter — a big first step. My BMC, now my wife, was naturally highly protective of her daughter. Abbie and I hit it off straight-away. She plied me with lots of questions about my job, my grown daughters, where I lived, which at the time was right around the corner in Nugget Hill. I asked her about school, what she liked to read (Harry Potter mainly) what kind of music she liked (boy bands, Miley Cyrus), her favorite foods (cheese pizza, of course) and so forth.

Today she turns 15. We at last all live under the same roof after a few years of commuter engagement and marriage, which was tough on all of us. Living together also requires adjustment, when it involves three highly independent individuals. I don’t think any of us would trade it, not that I plan on asking.

Raising a teenager at an age when most folks have grandchildren (I don’t) is guaranteed to keep me young at heart. My BMC is a few years younger than me, but this is her only child, and thus first teen-ager. Since this is not my first rodeo, I like to think that my experience proves helpful during those times when the child’s head begins spinning around like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist,” and she goes Into Meltdown Mode. This is relatively rare and usually short-lived, but it is going to happen. It has to be endured, if possible, with humor and grace.

Abbie’s best trait is a kind and loving heart. She does not want to hurt anyone or anything. That means a lot at an age when kids can be mean, when cliques are common, alliances are formed, there are in-crowds and out-crowds. Abbie was raised, long before I arrived, to be “salt and light” to others, to treat everyone the same. I pray that is a character trait that she never loses.

I was doubly blessed quite unexpectedly in early 2008 with an email invitation to coffee, and then a lunch at Pizza King, where I met the young girl I now call my favorite youngest daughter. She invariably reminds me she is my only youngest daughter. She knows I mean more when I say that, so much more. We are a family, with a couple of dogs to round out the household — plus her grown sisters, uncles,  aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins abounding. I am blessed by all of this, but most of all by the joy brought to me each day here in our home.

She is no longer a little girl but a beautiful young teen, who walks that high-beam all teens walk in a world fraught with temptation, drama and the general messiness of learning how to grow up. Our job is to keep her from tumbling down, and helping her learn how to pick herself up when she does fall.

Happy Birthday, Abbie. I love you.

Source URL: https://garyborders.com/pages/our-youngest-daughter-turns-15/