When I Was 11

I've thought this way for years,
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When I was 11, I had a loud, twangy voice that was much more annoying than the loud twangy voice that I am blessed with today.

When I was 11, I was short and round sans a waistline. I had unruly hair and thick bangs that were in the shape of a large-barreled curling iron.

When I was 11, I was going through a terribly awkward and ugly phase, and I watched the popular pretty girls whisper and snicker as I walked past them in the middle school hallway.

When I was 11, I was sure that I'd be loud and annoying and ugly and awkward for the rest of my life.

When I was 11, my poofy bangs and chubby face were the last thing that my father saw. My pitchy voice was the last that thing that my father heard.

As I grew and changed, I wished my father was alive to see the person that I was becoming.

I wish he could know that the awkwardness faded and the weight fell off as my height increased by 10 inches; that those ridiculous bangs grew and I traded the curling iron for a straightening iron, that I killed the pretty, mean bullies with kindness and then may or may not have stolen their boyfriends, that my voice isn't nearly as loud and pitchy and discontent as it was when he was alive.

I wish he was here to see that I fell in love with a good man that reminds me quite a bit of him -- tall and generous with a love of shooting pool and Bob Seger.

I wish he was here to see my beautiful children that I named after him.

I wish he could know that I stuck with the writing hobby that I loved so much as a child; that I followed my dreams.

I've thought this way for years, if only he could see me now. He'd be proud of the woman that I've become.

I'm sure he must've worried back then that I'd always be a loser, the subject of ridicule, with my round body, round hair, awkward movements and irritating inflection.

But, tonight, as I watched my children playing, I had a thought that I've never had before.

My daughter is 7, and when she looks back at her second grade school photo, she will probably grimace at the missing teeth, the baby curls that frame her face, her chubby cheeks.

And when I look back at her second grade photo, I will think her smile is precious, her curls are beautiful, and her gorgeous face will take my breath away.

On my father's last day on this earth, as that fat little girl hovered over him with her fluffy, unruly hair and her annoying voice, he didn't see a disappointment. He saw his daughter.

His perfect daughter.

And he was proud.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.


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