It was 25 years ago when I first saw a person come into this world. It seems like only yesterday.
I can still remember those tiny hands and feet. I held her in my arms and sang to her. I’ve never pretended to be a great singer, but she seemed to like it.
Later on, I worked an afternoon shift and I would dress her and take her to daycare. It was our time and those days remain so very special.
Last month, Ashton Blackwood celebrated her 25th birthday. She said she wanted her daddy to take her back to New York City for her birthday. I did.
We rode commuter trains and subways and walked all over the Big Apple. It was a magical time. I still have sore feet to remind me of how much fun we had.
But there is something bittersweet about a trip with your daughter at 25. It is the realization this may be the last time you do this. The future may take her down a different path and I don’t know if she’ll ever want to travel with old Dad again.
I held her hands as she attempted to walk on her own as a baby. When we put her in a pair of white, hard-bottom baby shoes, she toddled around. I can remember walking behind her with hands extended in the event she might fall.
She fell a few times and learned how to pick herself up and go at it again. That’s the way of life.
I regret divorce became a word in her vocabulary, but it did. We found ways to enjoy our time together and she knew both parents loved her dearly.
Those feet that I saw take their first steps, led me all across Manhattan, parts of New Jersey and around the city of Philadelphia. She walks faster now than her daddy does and I worked to keep up with her. We followed the footsteps of some famous folks on our walk, including Queen Elizabeth II and President George Washington.
Sitting in a couple of Broadway shows, I glanced over to see that sparkle in her beautiful eyes. It was the same sparkle I saw when I first brought her to New York 15 years earlier.
We were walking up Broadway and a darkened theater was being readied for a production of “Fiddler on the Roof” beginning in November. I couldn’t help but think of the show’s lead character, Tevye the milkman and his wife, Golde, who sing in disbelief of their daughter growing up.
He asks the questions, “Is this the little girl I carried?” and “When did she get to be a beauty?” His wife responds she doesn’t remember growing older.
That little girl has always been a beauty to me. I love to look at pictures as she evolved from baby to young woman. She is poised and confident and was recently named one of the outstanding young graduates of the University of West Georgia. It seems like just a minute ago, I was at a middle school awards banquet watching her being honored there.
Unlike Tevye, this is not a lament. It is appreciation and astonishment. I wouldn’t want to go back, but will always enjoy going there in the theater of my mind.
My song, one of the first I sung to her, is “Love me, Tender.”
Its final line says it all. “For, my darling, I love you and I always will.”
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.