If you recall my blog of a couple weeks ago in which I got such wonderful feedback (concerning the adoption of my daughter, Chawney), I talked about how things probably wouldn’t change that much after the adoption paperwork was done and everything was official.
From a day-to-day life viewpoint, I guess things really haven’t changed at all. In the six years the kids (Chawney and her brother, JR) have been in my care and under my roof, I have loved them as my own. In fact, I think it’s fair to say I became pretty attached to them even before their mom and I got hitched.
But a funny thing has happened since May 18, the day everything became set in stone. Things have changed. They’ve changed very much. It’s just something you can’t see or touch; it’s more of a feeling, something unsaid but it’s unquestionably there.
Whatever “it” is, it ratchets all those feelings up a few notches.
Just knowing that your stepdaughter wanted you to be her father so much she was willing to take some life-altering steps to make it happen … I mean, how flattering is that?!
I still get a chill every time I talk to someone else about Chawney, and get to use those two wonderful words together: “my daughter.” I doubt that’ll go away anytime soon.
So when last Thursday came around and it was time for her high school graduation, I was the typical dad there. The graduation was held at the UCF Arena, a pretty big place, and because Lake Howell High School is fairly large (especially when compared to my own high school graduating class of 20), the arena was full. By the time we got there, we were not even remotely close to the stage, so I tried to take advantage of every photo opportunity I could. At one point, much like a hundred other parents before me, I jumped into the aisle to take a quick picture of her as she walked toward the stage in her cluster of students, just prior to receiving her diploma.
As I took the first picture, the usher (a very obtuse sixty-something gentleman) decided to get after me for having the audacity to actually stand up, stride over into the aisle and take a picture. “Sit down!” he yelled at me.
Well, something inside of me just snapped. “I am taking a picture of MY DAUGHTER, so just calm down and relax and I’ll be done in just a minute,” I shot back.
That apparently was not acceptable to the usher, who was obviously taking his position way too seriously. He pointed at me – yes, he literally pointed at me – and again said, “Sit down,” only this time much louder than the first time.
A thousand thoughts were running through my head. This is MY DAUGHTER’S graduation and I can’t even enjoy the process of taking her picture because of some grumpy old man making $8 an hour is standing in the way. Why is he being like this? Is he going to have me ejected from MY DAUGHTER’S graduation? Why did he pick me to accost and not somebody else – there were at least 100 other parents who’d done the same exact thing?
I couldn’t take it anymore. I know you are supposed to have respect for your elders, and I apologize to him for not doing that, but he was attempting to rob me of a memory that I’ll never have a chance to get back.
“I’m only taking a picture of MY DAUGHTER during her graduation,” I emphatically crowed at him. “It’s not like I’ll ever have this chance again, so you need to just calm down, grandpa!”
Yes, I called him “grandpa.”
I finished with my pictures (which, by the way, were barely visible because the flash was not sufficient) and returned to my seat. Those around me were aghast at our exchange, but I did have the support of those who chose to say something to me about what transpired. So you would’ve thought it ended there, right? Not quite.
For the next 15 minutes or so, “grandpa” continued to glare at me with the scowl of a man who wanted to do bodily harm to me. I would stare back at him for a few seconds as if to say, “let’s move on and forget this ever happened.” Then, I would look away, figuring he’d move on and badger someone else for some perceived heinous crime against humanity that they committed.
But each time when I returned my attention to him, there he’d be, his face fixed on me with a cold, steely stare that reeked of bad intentions.
Then, just as suddenly, I finally got the break I needed. Another transgressor! Without warning, he shot up the stairs like lightning to remove two teens who apparently were in violation of UCF Arena protocol, Section 12, Sub-Section 16, Rule 28: Standing in front of the stairway.
He forced the evil pair back to their seats and, just like that, I was no longer this man’s object of disdain.
Did I have a point? Oh yes … my point is that it’s completely unlike me to yell at someone under any circumstances. But sometimes “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do,” as the late, great John Wayne said (at least I think it was him).
I believe that any other parent in my shoes would’ve done the same thing. Because when it comes to sharing a proud moment with your child (in this case, with MY DAUGHTER), no one’s going to get in the way of that, especially not an usher.