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"Life Experiences"
Grumblings, Ramblings and Fish Stories
by Bob D'Amico
June 2002     

his Saturday I'll be having one of those "life experiences" that we get to "enjoy" as the years fly by. This life experience will be both a day of joy, happiness and sadness as well.

I don't know how all the years went by so fast, it seems that it was just yesterday when my daughter Jennie was born on a cold December night. And it was yesterday when I took her down to Winton Woods Park, all bundled up from the cold with a couple of bags of stale bread to feed the ducks. I have a picture of her next to a 1973 Ford "woodie" station wagon with ducks anxiously surrounding her to get some food. There's also the movie in my mind of her speeding around Washington Square on her "Tyke Bike," scuffing her shoes. Most of all I remember that huge smile on her face as she pushed herself along on the sidewalk.

I remember her scream when she severely burned her hand on the electric BBQ starter in the backyard of our first house in Cincinnati. I was supposed to be watching her.

There is also the vivid memory of her sitting with her sister Melissa in our first fishing boat on Garza Little Elm Lake in north Dallas. It was windy and the water was a little choppy, she turned to me, pointed to the shoreline and asked me to drive there. I asked her why and she responded, "Because I want to get out."

It seems like just the other day when she was running around the living room with Melissa, fell on the hearth and split open her forehead. She needed stitches…. I was supposed to be watching her. First Day of School

I remember her first day of Kindergarten, how thrilled she was to be going to school, the forlorn look on Melissa's face because she couldn't go along and the apprehension in the eyes of my wife Carole. I remember the tears and have the picture of her saying goodbye to her dog Taffy when I moved the family to Belgium. I swear it was yesterday.

And it was just yesterday when she started at the Antwerp International School. One amongst dozens of children from all over the world, she was so scared. A few years later I recall both Jennie's and Melissa's fear and tears when Pan Am flight 103 went down over Lockerbie, Scotland. Thank God none of their schoolmates were on that plane.

I recall sending her off on skiing trips to Austria, school trips to France and the excitement in her face when we drove up to the top of the Susten Pass in Switzerland and her glee at seeing any waterfall. I remember picking her up at a party at a café in Belgium when she decided she was old enough to drink. I was mad at her but felt sorry for her as well since I knew she was sick as hell.

And I swear it wasn't too long ago that she graduated from the Antwerp International School. I bought her a Euro rail pass as a graduation gift so she could travel all over for her last summer at home in Europe. I met her at the train station in Chartres, France after a few weeks, she was famished, tired and happy to be on the last leg home. I was far happier than she was! That summer I was a "whip lashed" passenger in a red Volvo 5 speed as we "drove" around a parking lot in Roosendaal, Holland as she learned to drive, I didn't mind.

I have the vivid image of her crying and hugging our dog Andy when she left for the States. Next thing I know is we are all crying as we say our goodbyes as she started her freshman year at Villanova University. God I hated leaving her.

I know the years flew by but it was just yesterday when she graduated from Villanova and started her first job. It was yesterday when she moved into her "own" apartment. I knew that she thought she was really independent then, but I knew better, she still needed me.

I needed her too; Jennie and Melissa were both there with the rest of the family on that Christmas Eve when we said our final farewells to my Dad in the VA hospital. That was a "life experience" that we all learned something about our wonderful family and ourselves.

I remember the night she came by and told me about a friend named Mark, she knew him from Villanova. And although it may have been a year or more I'm certain it was just the next night when he called and asked to come over to speak with Carole and me before he took off for Amsterdam to meet Jennie.

This Saturday will be the happiest day of Jennie and Mark's lives, they are going back to Villanova to take their marriage vows. Our family and Mark's will be there to celebrate together. What will be unique is that Jennie's friends from her entire life will be there too, a friend from Kindergarten in Dallas, many friends she made at the Antwerp International School will be flying in as well as her friends from Villanova.

I'll be there for my "life experience," I'll be walking the bride down the aisle. I did the same thing last July for Melissa, it really hurts and doesn't seem fair to force a father to give away their daughter to another man but I know that Mark loves her and will always take care of my Jennie. I know he'll do a better job than I did.

Flying Over Iran -  This Week in History -  Gone Fishing
Life's Experiences -  Dog Days -  September 11 -  A Very Good Year, but...
An American Family -  A Letter From Viet Nam

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