And now look at you.
Corey, you just graduated college and have the whole world in your grasp. Still unsure what you'll be, but I know what you'll become. A success at anything you decide to do. And unlike many, you have a good enough grasp on life to define your success in hearts touched as opposed to dollars earned. Guess you were actually listening at times.
Erika, you're a young woman ready to enter the world of teaching and molding young minds. After playing surrogate Mom to your younger sisters, this should come as no surprise. Sometimes maturity and self confidence take time to develop. Yours became apparent when you were four years old.
And Julia, my little butterfly dancer. Jules. Juice Box. Ready to enter college with your plan so in place. I wasn't there to help you formulate it, only to coach you, but like everything you do, you do it with abandon. No "I" left undotted and "T" left uncrossed.
Never forget the time you cartwheeled down Mtn. Wachusett. All 4.3 miles on the dirt road. Hands bleeding. Rocks embedded. Why did you do it? Because you said you could.
Gotta forgive me for getting sentimental. It's Father's Day on Sunday and I get like this every darn year. Wondered if I could have done more to be a good father. I think I was, but sometimes you wish you could have done things differently. And so I critique.
I remember each of your births so vividly; every detail etched in my mind forever. The look fo joy on your Mother's face. The sound of the doctor's voice announcing "It's a boy, Mr. and Mrs. Civin" followed three years later by "It's a girl, Mr. and Mrs. Civin, then three years again by "It's another girl, Dawn and Todd."
I remember late night feedings and diaper rash and holding you tight while I rocked you to sleep. The way you grasped my finger tightly as you nodded off to dreamland. Testing the temperature of the water prior to your baths.
I can still smell the sweet scent of clean baby after you got out of your tub. Dripping your bottle on my forearm to make sure I didn't scald your tiny little tongues and tasting those God awful creamed peas in an effort to trick you into thinking they actually tasted good. First sounds...first words..first steps...first everythings.
We survived the terrible twos and the almost equally torrential threes. First day of school. First dance lesson. First base hit, first error and even your first and only unassisted triple play. I cheered for every home run and tried to console every swing and a miss.
I clapped feverishly at every arabesque and screamed "BRAVO" at each curtain call. I tried to catch you when you'd fall and watched proudly when you'd brush yourself off and tell me you "didn't need my help" on those times that I didn't arrive in time to make the catch.
I remember every birthday at Chuck E. Cheese, our trips to Disney and our vacations in the "cooooold" water in Maine. I loved when you'd bury me up to my neck at Hampton Beach and then sit back and watch the other families laugh.
I loved feeding the animals at Friendly Farm. I cherished every ice cream cone shared, every shoulder ride given and every Happy Meal enjoyed.
Teaching you to ride a two-wheeler.. hearing you sound out words...listening to you actually read. I'll never forget how my chest swelled with pride as I heard you spell word after word correctly at the spelling bee and the look of horror on Mom and my face as you spelled peninsula. P-E-N-I-S-U-L-A. Peninsula.
"What are you eating, Erika?" "Muffin dough"...you'd say in that little angelic voice. Art projects made out of macaroni...hand prints pressed into wet ceramic...and a shirt and tie made out of construction paper. How I wish I still had them.
I remember how my eyes welled up with tears as you marched with the Little Leaguers in the Memorial Day Parade and with your karate group at Labor Day. I remember you graduating from Daisy Girl Scouts and when you graduated from readiness to first grade. I will forever remember the feeling of pride as each of your teachers told Mom and I "what a pleasure" you were to teach and how eager you were to learn.
I remember every night I tucked you into bed, each prayer you recited and every butterfly kiss, Eskimo kiss, Grandma kiss and regular kiss you'd give to me before you'd nod off to sleep.
Mom and I split up, but you guys never stopped including me in your lives. Every Wednesday and every other weekend I learned about first dates...first kisses...first broken heart..Junior Prom...high school sweethearts..
The future promises to bring college graduations...First job...First promotion and trips down the aisle.
Oh how I wish you had stayed little forever.
What I guess I'm saying kiddos, is that although we'll get together on Sunday for a barbecue and some hugs, I want you to know that every day has been Father's Day with three awesome "kids" like you.
Love you, Daddy
Todd Civin is a freelance writer. Feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or to request permission to use his stories for content. He is also a supporter of "A Glove of Their Own" the award winning book that teaches us all the importance of Paying it Forward. Visit the site at www.agloveoftheirown.com and purchase the book under today's donor code JNF636 Joe Niekro Foundation.