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OPINION

Koen: Final preparations for a special day in the life of a father and his daughter

Staff Writer
Amarillo Globe-News
Koen

By the time you read this my daughter will be married. She will have taken the first of the little steps that make up life. The next phase of her life will start as well as the next big adventure in her life that I hope will turn out as great as mine has.

My wife and I married 20 years ago, and I know now that I made the right decision because even to this day, she is my best friend and I hope that my daughter gets to say the same thing in 20 years. Today, however, I only have one thing on my mind and that is the father of the bride speech. I think this is something every father of a little girl both looks forward to and dreads equally. This is the perfect opportunity to help your relationship or hinder it with the future in-laws, the one-day other grandparents of the next generation.

When my daughter was born, I was on deployment to Kosovo and didn’t get to see her until she was nearly six months old. I had heard plenty of stories by then and seen pictures, but those things don’t matter as much as the first time you hold that little baby in your arms and you know you did a good thing.

My daughter was long and lanky and 90 percent of her body weight was in her hair. She came out with a full head of gorgeous brown hair that I couldn’t believe was possible on such a small little baby. One of the first days I was back my wife, who, having to deal with a little one on her own for so long, was sleeping.

Symphony woke up and I decided to take her outside and let my wife catch up on her sleep. I grabbed a blanket and right outside our government housing was a small park. We went out there laid on the blanket and played for probably an hour. Being the young husband and dad I was, I didn’t think to leave any type of note or anything for my wife and when she woke up and couldn’t find me or the baby, she thought something had happened.

She stormed out of that little apartment still in her pajamas, hair a mess, to find us perfectly fine and enjoying our morning. That mother bear instinct can get the dad in trouble sometimes.

Several years later we were living in Virginia and my daughter had been trying to learn how to ride a bike for the past several weeks to no avail. She would go a little ways and then make me put the training wheels back on. It was one of the most frustrating things.

She would dump the bike over, not even wreck it, and start crying like she just wrecked going full speed into a car. I was on my way home from work determined that today was the day and she would finally conquer this rite of passage and ride that bike.

When I pulled up to our little house my neighbor was out front. He was one of our best friends and had stopped by to have a beer and catch up. I looked over into our cul-de-sac and there goes my daughter no training wheels just riding her bike like no big deal. She always goes her own way and does things you wouldn’t expect and that day was no exception.

Speaking of her tenaciously hard head. About that same time, we had a 150-pound golden retriever. He was the best dog but would pull on his leash and try to go as fast as you would let him on walks. My daughter wanted to hold the leash when we walked and I kept telling her no he would knock her down until she wore me down and I let her try.

We walked out that door and Ghandi took off like he saw a rabbit like I knew he would. My little girl was holding that leash and when he hit the end of it her legs were yanked up to where her head was and she went sailing through the air crashing down on her stomach several feet from where she started.

You can’t tell Symphony that she can’t do something.

In middle school one teacher rudely told her, she couldn’t run track or cross country. This riled my daughter up and to prove her wrong she joined the cross country team. Along the way she made friends on the track team and many of them are still her friends today.

I keep thinking maybe I’ll tell her she can’t graduate from college just because I know she will put all that determination into proving me wrong. A little over a year ago she began dating Bryan. I knew from the sparkle in her eye and the way she talked about him that this was a different relationship than she had ever had before.

When Ashley came to me and said she thought Bryan was going to ask Symphony to marry him we couldn’t have been happier. I love my daughter and cannot think of anything better than getting to share this day with her and her new family.

Life will always test you and sometimes it will beat you down. But it makes it easier when you have a best friend to help you through the hard times and to enjoy the good time with. I know with your tenacity and hard head this will be the first of many steps you will take together as a family.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaders and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at dochecleanersamarillo.com