She always knew the day would come, she just didn't think it would come so soon. Despite knowing it, she could have never been truly prepared. She had no idea what to expect when she got there for certain, but her nervousness wasn't enough to slow her pace down the hospital corridor towards his room. Beads of sweat began to accumulate on her brow as her anxiety swept over her and she turned to face the window of his door.
“Daddy,” she whispered faintly under her breath.
She couldn't believe that the man that had always appeared to be so strong now sat before her in such a weak state. He had always been there for his daughter. Even after her mother had died when she was a child, her father took her place and performed all the matriarchal duties of the house.
She remembered him sewing her badges onto her girl scouts uniform. They had a real character about them. She was always proud because each and everyone of those badges represented a time that she spent with him. He was the greatest father a little girl could have asked for and it continued into adulthood.
She remembered the day her father gave her away at her wedding to the other great man she was lucky enough to find. And she recalled when he came here to this very hospital to see her with his first grandchild. He held the baby with such pride as the happiness brought tears to his eyes.
There were so many great memories that began to flood into her recollection that she no longer saw through that window at the aging man. The thoughts raced through her mind of all the great times she had in the past with the most wonderful man she had ever known and her weariness slowly gave way to a bit of smile on her face.
The smile began to fade as the door creaked open and the reality of it all sunk deep inside her. He was awake and turned his head towards her and smiled. She smiled back with the largest smile she had ever conjured and immediately burst into tears.
“Daddy! I love you so much,” she was able to say despite the trembling of her bottom lip.
“I know sweety. I know. I love you too,” he said while reaching out for her hand with his.
They grabbed each others hands and began to squeeze. She took notice of his weakness and was hesitant to squeeze back too hard in fear of hurting him. For the first time, he seemed so fragile.
Memories once again began to race, but one in particular kept looping back for a repeat. As if in a movie the foggy reminiscent frame appeared around her memory. There she was, nine years old, being pushed on the swing by her father. Tears dripped from her eyes as did they his.
“Daddy, where is Mommy?”
“She went to heaven, honey. God wanted her help to take care of the children in heaven because she did such a good job with you.”
She sniffed a little bit and wiped the tears away and replied, “well, when will she be finished? I miss her. I have a girl scout meeting this week and I might get my first badge. She'll need to help me put it on.”
The tears began to flow on her fathers face as he had no idea how to answer his daughter. He, too, wiped the tears away as he mustered up a response, “Well, sweety, she's not coming back, but I can help you with that badge.”
“Daddy, you can't sew.”
“Well, I'll just have to learn then wont I?”
“I guess so,” she began to say as she was interrupted by her own sniffing. “But, what if she needs us up there? Will God let us come and visit her?”
“Well, we will be able to visit her one day, but not now. God will let us know when he is ready for us.”
The foggy frame began to fade as the flashback dissipated and she was able to focus her sight on her father's eyes. She remembered how sad those eyes looked the day her mother died, but today, they looked nothing like that. They seemed to have a glow about them.
She remembered how much he loved her mother and how he said he would love her forever. She watched him prove it over the years too after seeing him never to remarry as he made his little girl his only concern thereafter. For almost forty years he continued on alone because his love for his wife could never be matched again by anyone.
She sat down in the chair that stood at the head of the bed and leaned over to hug her father. He was clammy and warm feeling, but that didn't seem to affect his seemingly content mood. She pressed her lips to his balding head to give him a kiss. She then thought, was that the last kiss she would ever give him?
While still in close she moved her lips from his head to his ear and whispered to him, “I brought you something.”
She stood up from the chair and reached into her purse and pulled out an old antique-looking frame. She held it out in front of her with both arms fully extended as she stared at it. She cracked a smile as she let go with one hand and used the other to wipe the dust away with sleeve of the other arm.
“It's a picture of me, you and Mom,” she said louder than she planned just before clearing her throat.
The picture was old and in black and white. In it she was about eight years old wearing a dress and both of her parents stood behind her with big smiles on their faces. She took the picture and moved it over to where her father could see it. His smile grew large and those tears once more crept into his eyes.
Her father spoke again for the last time, “I love you so much sweety. I'm going to miss you. God is finally ready for me to visit your mother.”
She laid the frame on his chest and wrapped his hand around it. She watched him grasp it tighter as he closed his eyes shut and squeezed the remainder of his tears onto his cheeks. She saw his teeth begin to show as his smile grew. She knew that no matter how much she missed him he would be so happy. It was her mother's turn to take care of him now.
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