My dad wrote me a letter for my birthday, telling me the combined stories of my nose and namesake. It’s a beautiful letter and gave me a beautiful image to hold. I’ve shared these stories in pieces, but this time, I thought I’d share the letter.
For one, you’ll get a glimpse of the storyteller who is my father. Two, I appreciated how he expanded his stories of me to include my resiliency. Stories, even ones we think we know, evolve and can still surprise us with new insights.
I have fathers on my mind, not just because Father’s Day (in the US) is approaching (June 18) but because I can finally tell you all a secret. At last. The pumpkin is out of the bag. My son is going to be a father!
That means this buckaroo is going to be a grandmother. Whoa. I did not see that coming. I raised three children who decided that children were not their priorities. The choice to parent is not a potential grandparent’s choice so I’ve had over a decade of practicing the response (when asked if I have grandkids) — “Not my decision.” Both daughters, upon hearing the news, reiterated their child-free choices and told their brother, “Thanks for taking one for the team.” As for me, I’m excited to have a little hag or dude to teach about Nature and Blue Heron and Water. This grandchild of mine will know books, dreams, and rocks.
Mostly, I’m happy for Leah and Kyle. Their lives are going to change and I’m excited to see what they do with new possibilities. I’m proud of my son already because he’s a good partner and that’s a precursor to being a good father. For now, Leah is doing all the work. They are both active runners and that continues. She’s prioritized her health for her pregnancy and selected a nearby birthing center that is a prairie surprise. One would expect such a quality center in an urban setting, but their small town on the Wisconsin Prairie is home to butter burgers (I know, not exactly a pillar of health but it’s a ‘sconi thing). The wealthy burger barons of Wisconsin, Culvers, built the facility for their hometown.
Our wee Boo is due October 31. How fun is that? We plan to be on hand for the parents, supporting (me) and entertaining (Todd). Why do I feel like dads get it easy? I can’t complain, though. Todd delivered our third child because the midwife decided to drive across Montana instead of flying. He’s been good support, too as my partner in parenting. The proof is in the kid pudding we baked.
And, apparently, old fathers can learn new tricks to express love in old stories.
Your Mom was 17 and I was 18 years old when you were born. After Mom going through a long labor with you, Dr. Jones nervously told me that he was going to have to perform an emergency caesarean or we were going to lose both of you. Mom had tried so hard she was shutting down. Unlike today a caesarean was not a common procedure. Dr. Jones had never performed one and normal protocol was to have a second Doctor present because their were two lives at risk. Because Hollister was small at the time and it was a weekend, no other doctor was available. Dr. Jones felt he could wait no longer.
I don’t know how long it took in surgery but I do know every minute seemed like an hour. Finally Dr. Jones came out and said everything went fine and I had a beautiful daughter. He did add your nose was flattened from pushing against your Mom’s backbone trying your best to come out when Mom’s escape hatch wouldn’t open, but your nose would be normal in a few weeks. Mom always said it was because she didn’t want to let you go. I also found out afterwards that Dr. Jones had been on an all night drinking binge when he got the call Mom was in labor. That’s most likely why your Mom has an 24” scar that’s as crooked as a desert sidewinders track.
They kept you and Mom at the hospital for 10 days. After a few weeks your nose didn’t look like a boxer with a long career of losing fights. But that didn’t matter, because when I finally got to see you with your grandmothers and aunts standing outside the nursery window a few hours after you were born, my first words were, “she is the most beautiful baby in the world”. They all twisted their necks around in unison and looked at me with a “WTF” clearly written on their faces.
Nearly two weeks later when you and your mom finally came home I started calling you Charlie. Annette Marie was a beautiful name for a beautiful baby (and you weren’t named after some Mouseketeer with big ears, as I was accused of besides, you already had a beat up boxers nose, you sure as hell didn’t need to get any big ears involved), but Charlie was my childhood imaginary friend that introduced me to nature and its world of mysteries and new adventures lurking around every corner. Unfortunately humanness fallibility got in the way of that dream.
You were a fighter from the beginning, you fought through unmitigated childhood adversities, battled through college with three small children in tow and stood shoulder to shoulder with a Ranger battling his own unfair adversities. All without fanfare or swagger. With tenacity you simply did what needed to be done.
Let Charlie guide you on your next weeks camping trip through natures mysteries and adventures. Come back strong, put your kick ass boots on and jump back into the human rat race with gusto and know Charlie will always be at your side.
I’m honored to be the father of one Annette Marie Mills, aka Charli.
DadGerorge, the Mountain Man, 2023
Consider your roots. Life doesn’t always unfold as planned. But life presents us with unparalleled beauty every day. As writers, we get to chase that beauty, map its contours, and leave a light to shine in the darkness. I’m going to go connect with my inner guide and , Charlie, and explore more mysteries and adventures.
June 13, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about fathers in general, or a specific father. You can use different names — Papa, Daddy, Fabio. What is significant about a father? Write an homage, rant, comedy, tragedy, or anything in between. Go where the prompt leads!
- Submit by June 19, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
- Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
- A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
- Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
- Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.