Yesterday, my husband said the words we often repeat like a mantra, "I wonder how Katy is today?" Usually, I would pick up the phone and call, or not, waiting for her to call me, not wanting to disturb what might be a fitful nap or a sweet time with her husband or one of the young women or little ones in her house. But this time, I said, "Why don't you call her?" He picked up the phone right away. It touched her, as I knew it would. Too often in recent years, I have been the channel through which they speak in echoes to each other. My conflicted relationship with a loving but raging father hovers in my voice when I speak to any man, even my husband, after all these years, and I feel the hurts I've seen repeated with my daughter and her father. I am older now than my daddy was when he died. More than ever, as I talk with my daughter, my granddaughters, my nieces, I wish he could have known them, wish he'd had that chance to tease and gaze in pride, as I know he would have done, freed from the responsibilities of fatherhood that weighed down his shoulders. An intense, fragile relationship exists between fathers and their grown daughters--feels like teetering on the edge of a dangerous cliff sometimes--as they become grandfathers and we move into motherhood, protecting even as we still long for the love and protection they gave--or failed to give--in our childhoods. Johnny Cash's daughter captures that feeling in a phrase: "I was struck by his back." The vulnerable sight of a father's back as he moves into his work. . . .
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