The first time he saw her he refused to hold her.
I told him he had to at least touch her. He looked a little afraid of her. Or of breaking her.
His eyes were traitors to him. They betrayed how he felt. They were bright, and I do mean shiny, with the tears he wouldn’t let go.
He held up his huge, muscled, hard worked and calloused hand, made a fist. And stuck out his index finger. Ever so gently he touched her fat little three day old cheek with the very tip of his finger.
I thought the tears would let go.
He managed to hold on to them.
But he couldn’t hold back the smile.
And when she wasn’t quite so fragile looking he did hold her. She wasn’t fragile at all. But she was very precious to him. And this made him feel fragile about her.
As she grew she would sit on the arm of his recliner and they would look out that side window together. He would smoke his cigar. Mindful of it being too much for her and not wanting the smoke to engulf her. It reminded me of my Grandpa’s pipe.
She would sit in his lap.
And talk with him. Long before she knew any words.
She brought him laughter. Joy. And conversation.
One of the first conversations she had with him using full words, he loved to tell. And retell.
She did something (long since forgotten) or wanted something. And he said “sorry Charlie” referencing the long ago tuna fish commercials.
She stopped in her tracks and looked at him like only a two year old can. “My name’s not Charlie!”
He thought she was the smartest thing in the world.
For a man who was scared to touch her. He managed to hold her dearly. He held her snugly, safely, in his heart. Every single day.