Many years ago, I recall my father first telling me that one of his roles as a father was to provide me with more opportunities than his father provided him.
He later reminded me one way he measured his performance of that role. The details are blurry at best, but I remember him going somewhere and after introducing himself, the other person asked if he was Ray’s father? That was the moment for him because for all the years leading up to that encounter, I was always “Lenny & Lorrie’s son”. My dad was the police chief in town, (Warren, NJ which was very similar to Aiken) and both of my parents were active in numerous activities. I was always identified as one of their children and most of what I did was associated with them, which was not a bad gig to latch onto.
As time clock ticked on, those references occured more often as I grew up and became my own man. Even to this day, dad & I still have conversations comparing our lives as parents. These aren’t competitive by any measure, but are simply acknowledgements of historical facts. Both of my parents will often comment about how happy they are to have lived long enough to see their children become parents and to experience the experience of knowing they ultimately played a role in that.
I have given the same talk to our three daughters. I suppose that at their ages, it fell on deaf ears, but someday they will remember, just like I did.
I have started to experience that feeling. Our oldest daughter, Kelliann, on her quest for her nursing degree, has been employed at the local hospital and I have heard on several occasions from people who work there or had been a patient there, what a great young lady she is. She is making the transition from being her parent’s daughter to being her own person. Unfortunately, I don’t get the chance to be in the emergency department or Labor & Delivery and observe her. (I doubt anyone would appreciate the local undertaker hanging out in the ER taking pictures). So unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to make the direct observation.
Our youngest daughter, Megan will be starting her junior year in high school next week and I am already starting to get glimpses of her obvious leadership skills and her ability to focus and do whatever needs to be done, albeit usually at the last minute, as most sixteen year olds are known to do. I know there will be more to mention, in time.
Now that I have provided the necessary disclaimers, here is the rest of the story…..
This past summer, our 2nd daughter, Elissa, began serving an internship with the Augusta GreenJackets. Being an intern anywhere is being at the bottom of the office food chain and not even getting paid to be there. It’s meant to be a learning experience.
Elissa is lucky to have not one, but two nicknames. For many years, she has been known as “Jelly” (a story for another day, perhaps), but at the Augusta GreenJackets, she is known as “Smiley”, (no explanation needed). She started this summer with the GreenJackets, while tag team babysitting for two families with both her sisters. There was lots of complaining and very long hours completing boring tasks in the back office. As she performed those tasks, (apparently with competence) she was given additional responsibilities and eventually she mentioned her interest in photography and they gave her a chance at that.
Because of schedules and our season tickets being used by some of our caregiver friends, it had been about a month since I attended a game. Recently, Elissa had told us she was taking pictures, managing the clubs FaceBook page and doing the layout and photos for the game brochure handouts. Has someone ever explained something to you that you thought you understood, but really didn’t? That’s me.
This week I went to the stadium Thursday night with two buddies and last night by myself. I was in total and complete awe as I watched my daughter move around the ballpark, taking pictures, talking to patrons, (young and old), occasionally being followed by little children and just obviously enjoying what she was doing.
She was working as if she owned that stadium. She has grown up. She has found her bliss.
The staff at Lake Olmstead Stadium know me as “Smiley’s dad, Ray”
I get it now.