A daughter’s relationship with her father is a complicated mess. She spends most of her existence convinced he is out to get her, to ruin her life, to make her miserable for all eternity.
In my case, it started out well enough, so I am told. I don’t remember the early years, of course, but I’ve been told tales of my father wrapping rolled up towels around my middle so he could bounce me around rooms. Or, he would grab some rope, loop it through the mesh of a laundry basket and pull me down the hall at what I must have thought was breakneck speed. There were playhouses constructed from giant cardboard boxes. Magic tricks. Goofy jokes that made me laugh until my sides ached.
The earliest memory I have of my father is him tucking me into bed by pretending I was a leaf drifting down from a tree. I took great joy in being a leaf, and when he gave up after I begged him four or five times to do it again, I was sure he was the meanest father ever.
That’s the problem with daughters. We’re too busy focusing on what he doesn’t do to realize how much he does.
Granted, I had plenty of reason to take offense to my father’s actions. I mean, he expected me to clean my room. He would get angry if he discovered I’d taken every single possession and packed the underside of my bed, rather than put it all in its proper place. He would scold me for not doing homework, for getting a failing grade, for not listening to him or my mother. Honestly, the nerve of that guy.
The teenage years were especially angst-ridden. If ever that man didn’t understand me that was the time. He refused to bend to my will. He cruelly insisted I continue to obey him. He wouldn’t even buy me a car, insisting that if I wanted one, I’d better work for it. I knew, just knew, that if I could get away from him, my life would be so much easier.
I’d be able to drink, to party, to drop out of school and live a life of leisure. I’d travel the world and do what I wanted when I wanted. Problem is, I couldn’t get away from him. Now, if he’d given me some money, and that car, I could have, but he didn’t. So I was stuck with him.
As I aged, I realized later on, the contempt waned, though I can’t say I understood him. He did the weirdest things. This man—someone who was practically a pioneer of the computer age, considering his work experience—could barely handle the PC of the nineties. A man who once was able to work wonders with computers the size of your average living room was defeated by the buttons on a mouse. And when he did get on the computer, do you know what he did? He used a scanner to send an image of an unsatisfactory doughnut to Dunkin Donuts, and get a stack of coupons for free DD products. He was fascinated by this Hamster Dance site that featured….dancing animated hamsters. He’d scan and print photos of my nephews just so he could doodle cartoon bodies to attach to their photographed heads.
When he died in 2007, I found out he was still paying for an AOL account. Come on, Dad, really?
At any rate, I grew up, sort of, and we began to see eye to eye on more things. Not the computer. Not ever. But we bonded over oddball things like Jeopardy! and Everybody Loves Raymond. I wasn’t a tremendous fan, but you couldn’t help liking any show that cracked an old man up like that one did. He was responsible for the birth of my Gilmore Girls obsession. My dad. He was a Gilmore Girls fan. Go figure. His random musical tastes suited me. I gave him a Johnny Cash collection for Christmas. He was floored that I knew he loved Johnny Cash. I didn’t. I took a wild stab at it and lucked out. I didn’t admit that to him, though.
He liked to read the local newspaper just to pick out typographical errors. I found that hilarious.
He had the world’s largest and most un-valuable coin collection I’ve ever seen. I truly believe every coin he owned was only worth, at most and if he were very, very lucky, about a dollar more than face value. I went to Montana with an old boyfriend, and when I came back, the only thing he cared about was that I didn’t think to bring back any commemorative 50 state quarters stamped with the mark of the Denver mint—at least until I presented him with a sand art picture I bought from a Native American crafts shop in Wyoming. Then he was my best friend.
I guess I never noticed we were becoming friends, my dad and I. Not until he was so sick and fading away. The first time he forgot who I was, it broke my heart. I wasn’t prepared for it, even though I knew it was coming. The medication, the progressing illness, it was slowly chipping away at his cunning brain, and the day he didn’t know I was his daughter was the hardest day of my life.
Suddenly, I understood what it was to be cast adrift into a dark sea. No landmarks on the horizon, no hope of rescue. Suddenly, my daddy didn’t know me and I don’t think I’ll ever feel lonelier than I did that day.
Your father is your anchor. Through thick and thin, good times and bad, teenage hormones and early adulthood confusion, he is there. He guides you even when you refuse to listen. He teaches you even when you do everything in your power to tune out his lessons. He is there. Always. Until he isn’t.
And then you finally realize everything you ever had in the man. And how much you’ll miss it from that moment forward.
I miss my dad. I miss my friend. And most of all, I miss all the missed opportunities I had to truly see what he did for me.
Three years ago, native Pennsylvanian J.M. Kelley packed her bags and moved south. Now, the wannabe Carolina Girl can’t speak a single sentence without adding the word y’all at the end of it, and regards a blast of snow flurries as a doomsday-level event. When the day job allows, and when she can pull herself away from George Takei’s Facebook fanpage, she likes to go on writing jaunts to her favorite lake, or a local coffee shop with delicious shakes and questionable Wi-Fi connections.
J.M. Kelley is a proud recipient of a Carrie McCray Memorial Literary award, and is a member of The South Carolina Writers Workshop and Romance Writers of America (PAN). Readers interested in more information may visit her website at www.jmkelleywrites.com.
Sometimes, returning home isn’t about confronting your past; it’s about discovering your future.
Janie McGee, the black sheep of her family, is free-spirited, uninhibited, and never one to stay in the same place for too long. When Janie learns her father, Joe, is gravely ill, she reluctantly returns home to rural Pennsylvania to care for him. Joe’s neighbor, David Harris, sports a pocket protector, collects coins, and is addicted to Antiques Roadshow. Everything about him rubs Janie the wrong way, from his nerdy wardrobe to his enviable friendship with Joe. And to make matters worse, her father thinks they’re perfect for each other, proof positive of how little Joe knows his own daughter…or so Janie thinks.
A shared devotion to the elder McGee begins to close the gulf between Janie and David, but a burgeoning romance opens the door to new problems and unexpected consequences neither could foresee. Joe, however, remains steadfast in his resolve to show Janie that Daddy knows what’s best for his little girl. Can Janie finally open her heart to David while watching the first man she ever truly loved fade away?
Before he even opened the door, David knew something was off. Late night visitors, in his experience, rarely brought good news. When the visitor turned out to be Janie, his heart leapt into his throat. “Janie,” he said when he threw open the door. “What’s wrong? Is Joe okay?”
“Yeah. He’s fine.” Relief hit him so hard he took a step back and leaned against the doorjamb.
“You scared me.”
“I didn’t mean to.” Janie rubbed her hands up and down her arms and looked over her shoulder. “It’s cold out here. Mind if I come in?”
“Oh. Right.” David gestured for Janie to enter. “Come inside.” He followed when she slid past him and walked into the living room.
“It’s late.” As if she needed to tell him. The atomic clock on the wall, a Christmas gift from his mother, showed the time at almost two in the morning. Janie stood in the middle of the room and focused her gaze on the bookcase in the corner. “I didn’t wake you, did I?”
“I was reading. A little too wired to sleep, I guess.” David moved up behind her and raised a tentative hand to her shoulder. “Are you sure everything’s okay?”
The sound of his voice jolted her out of her thoughts and she jerked her head toward him. Her movements were stunted. Wooden. “Ever have one of those moments when you’re convinced you may float away, and no matter what you do, you can’t keep yourself grounded? And you need to hang on tight to something until the sensation passes?”Whatever was going on, he thought, she was not in a good place. David gently spun Janie toward him and gazed at her. “Tell me what you need from me.”
Janie closed her eyes and lowered her forehead to David’s shoulder. “Ground me, David,” she whispered and laid her hand on his chest.
Daddy’s Girl purchase links:
Turquoise Morning Press: http://www.turquoisemorningpressbookstore.com/products/daddys-girl-by-j-m-kelley
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/daddys-girl-jm-kelley/1114255053?ean=2940015960969&isbn=2940015960969 Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Daddys-Girl/book-KHCuDTSR9E2C7bbOEw-87A/page1.html?s=E-llxuUKm0m_cW4LB0jGNA&r=1
J.M. will be awarding a gift basket of some of the author's favorite things, including a $25 gift card from Amazon and a signed copy of the Foreign Affairs anthology from Turquoise Morning Press to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2013/04/virtual-book-tour-daddys-girl-by-jm.html