This Father's Day I expect to wake up at the beach after a few days of vacation, something I haven't had in a long time. All three daughters will be around, providing the best Father's Day presents possible just with their presence.
This Father's Day comes at an milestone month. Just the other day I hit the 25-year mark of working in the media. And on Tuesday, I hit the 25-year mark for marriage.
Yep. A quarter of a century of note-taking and nagging.
(Just kidding, honey. You know I don't take notes that much.)
Twenty-five years ago was just a blink to a lot of folks. I talk to readers all the time who've hit far longer marital milestones. But I haven't arrived at that historical outpost yet, so 25 years is a big deal to me.
Early summer 1984 was one of the more confusingly tumultuous times of my life. Just two days after graduation from the University of Georgia, I walked in to my new assignment as a reporter at The Augusta Herald.
Then, just two weeks later, I walked down the aisle at Trinity-on-the-Hill United Methodist Church to marry my high-school sweetheart.
Michelle had graduated a year before I did - I really, really liked UGA and did the five-year plan - and the day before her commencement I took her to dinner and gave her the ring I'd had on layaway at Friedman's.
At that point we'd already been dating five years. When her family arrived for graduation the next day, she showed off the ring and announced our intention to wed a year later, after my graduation.
We still laugh about her grandmother's reaction. A few minutes after the announcement, she pulled Michelle aside and in a hushed voice asked, "Are you sure y'all aren't rushing into anything?"
Ah, me. Far from rushing, that six years of dating and engagement was probably the most deliberative thing we've ever done. Much quicker was our decision on where to live after that wedding: We rented an apartment in Augusta for six months.
Then, six months later, we moved into her mom's basement while we built our first home in Martinez.
We call those years "The Dark Ages." I think you've read about them in history books. (Just kidding, Boots.)
One of my favorite pictures is of Michelle - as a school principal, she isn't exactly a heavy-equipment operator - pulling the levers on a front-end loader with my dad (happy Father's Day!) standing in the bucket, using a chain saw on some trees we were clearing for that house.
I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Just a couple of years later, we celebrated Michelle's first Mother's Day followed by my first Father's Day after Essa came along in February of 1987. Two more daughters later, and we had a full complement of girls to steal each other's clothes and fight over the bathrooms in the next house, and the next.
Through it all, thick and thin, better and worse, that first girl (the mom, not the kids) has hung in there with me. She's the one responsible for pushing me toward college in the first place - I would have probably headed for the logging business or the military instead - and she's continued nudging and nagging our three girls toward improving their own educations.
That trio was the best Father's Day gift I could ever have. And as they come up with gifts each Father's Day, they know that my favorite present is a new photo of the three of them together. If I could, I'd cover my walls with their portraits. I'm guessing that this week at the beach we will have snapped a few more.
Their mom doesn't like having her photo taken, however. She blinks. Just about every photo comes out with her eyes half-closed.
Even so, I see her in every photo of her daughters, a reminder of every single Father's Day and of the person who joined up with me 25 years ago this week to prepare for fatherhood - and motherhood.
Happy Father's Day to me, and to all dads. And happy anniversary, Michelle.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.
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