Three years ago there was a Father-Daughter Dance at OCF. At the time Natalie was 2 years old and the event was too late past her bedtime. Steve has been hoping ever since that there would be another dance at our church to which he could bring Natalie. As it turns out last night was his opportunity because he was willing to organize the event; his dream was realized. And what an incredible evening for Natalie and Daddy to hold onto in their memory forever!!!! It turned out just perfect.
For weeks leading up to tonight, Natalie has been counting down the days. She’s been asking with excitement”how many days left until the Father-Daughter Dance?????” She has been sooooooooooooooo eager for this night to arrive!!! Being able to see her joyful anticipation of this event was precious in and of itself! She propped up her two sparkly tickets on a shelf of the bookcase, leaning up against the statue we have of a daddy holding a tiny infant in his loving embrace. My has time flown since she fit the length of Daddy’s arms!
A week ago she and I were shopping at a consignment shop, looking for Halloween costumes. As we were perusing the racks, all of a sudden she found a super cute poodle skirt! Her excitement shot through the roof. “Mama, mama, mama, mama I can wear this to the 1950s Father-Daughter Dance!!!!!!” But wait- it got better. The lady of the shop asked her what size shoe she wore because she had some saddle shoes for sale. They fit! I can’t event begin to explain Natalie’s excitement at the thought of going dressed up in theme. She acted as though she had just won the lottery and was millions of dollars richer. We came home and pulled off the bookshelf the tiny book titled “Clip Clop” that Great Grandma Wallis had given us; a 1950’s book about a horse who gets told by his owner he will be getting shoes and then imagines himself wearing shoes of the family members who live on the farm. Only to turn out that he gets ‘horseshoes’. But one of the pairs of shoes he imagines himself in are saddle shoes!!! Natalie kept exclaiming, “Mama, mama, mama this poodle skirt and these saddle shoes are soooooooooo valuable! They don’t make these anymore. We can’t just go to Target or any store to buy them. They are so valuable because they are so rare!!!” How could I tell her that they are still made for costumes and the like? I let her live in the beautiful imagined world that these were relic items held over all these years; rare treasures that once belonged to a 5-year old girl in the 1950s and now hers. She felt like she was a part of history. Precious beyond words!
A few days ago Steve asked her what she’d like to eat for their picnic dinner they were to pack for the event. She quickly and boldly made the request: “Daddy, can we please have ribs or pork chops??!!!” Wow- seriously? A five year old requesting ribs or pork chops? Steve explained to her that ribs might be a bit messy so she quickly dropped that idea but resolutely stuck to her request for pork chops. Hi-lar-i-ous!
Late this afternoon Steve prepared her requested dinner: pork chops, bow tie pasta and celery. Random- I know. But she was ecstatic at the thought of this dinner. Well, as they were beginning the process of packing up a picnic basket, I headed out to the church to pull together final logistical details. A phenomenal team of people helped us pull off this event!!!!! We seriously owe a debt of gratitude to: Jeannie Hardie, Bari Thomas, Theresa Schleuter, Linda Goy, Maureen Lull, Jimmy Tom, Blanca Prado, Diana McGregor, Bob Francis, Sam Collins, Mike Collins, Christopher Howell, Brian Schleuter, Kenny Lefort, Erik Severson, Ed Siomacco, Margy Emmons, Carly Linehan, Shannon Morgensen, Jimmy Ireland and his wife, Earl- the curator of the El Segundo Driving Museum, Devon, Alberto from Century Flowers and a whole host of DaVinci Science high school students! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The beautiful gift of talents and time that these individuals gave was the reason this event turned out as beautiful and magnificent as it did.
It was only after the event that I found out what a beautiful, creative thing Steve did for Natalie! After they had packed up their picnic dinner and she was all dressed in her cute 1950s outfit, he snuck out the back door and walked around to the front door. Omie (my mom) was inside with Natalie and Jacob. All of a sudden they heard a knock at the door. My mom figured it was a Young Life kid or a neighbor, so she went to the door and opened it. Only to find to her great surprise a dapper looking Steve, all dressed up in his suit, picnic-basket in hand, announcing with his serious face “I am here to pick up my date.” Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh my goodness?!?!?!?!?! How cute is that?!?!?!?!? My mom said she was dumbfounded and couldn’t believe what a surprise Steve had given them. She went running for her camera and told Natalie someone was at the door for her. When she saw Daddy there all dressed up for her and waiting, inviting her to join him on their date together, her heart melted. I can only imagine what an intense feeling of “special” filled Natalie’s heart in that very moment. To see her handsome Daddy on the front porch- wearing the shirt and tie she had picked out for the event, ready to take her to an evening of special one-on-one quality time with her. Awwwwww, my heart just goes pitter patter at the thought.
I was at the ticket sales table when they arrived at church. What a beautiful sight to behold…..two faces with million dollar smiles stretched from ear-to-ear. And boy the excitement continued as Natalie discovered that Daddy had purchased a beautiful wrist corsage for her! Now she was adorned with beautiful pink roses and tiny white orchids. I don’t think she could even contain her excitement anymore. Freshly polished pink nails, wrist corsage, her vintage 1950s dress and shoes, Daddy all dressed up for her, a picnic dinner basket……wow.
As I sat at the ticket counter, my heart was filled with joy for all the daddies and daughters I saw come to the event. 122 in all. Girls of all ages- 6 months old to 21 years. Regardless of the age, there was sheer delight and a look of “special” on each of their faces. That’s the part that made all the logistical planning worth it. Watching the tiny little one tip toe in on her pink ballet shoes, her ticket so preciously grasped and then presented……..dads and daughters posing for photographs in front of one of the three classic cars that were parked out front…..the wide-eyed merriment as girls caught sight of the jars upon jars upon jars of candy toppings at the Ice Cream Bar……girls in heels…….girls walking down the 40-foot pink runner hand-in-hand with their daddies……excitement as they waited expectantly for the fun printout of their photo booth strip of pictures…..the loooooong line of excited girls when the Ice Cream Bar opened……the DaVinci high schoolers serving at the dessert bar, wearing their 1950s diner hats…….fun dance music blaring…..hula hoops spinning…..girls dancing, frolicking, laughing with other girls……dads with baby daughters in their arms…..dads with grown daughters in heels….smiles…..lots and lots of smiles……
This event made my mama heart happy. It’s a precious sight to behold when you peer into the auditorium and see a dance floor full of dads dancing with their daughters to the last song: Butterfly Kisses. Girls with their arms wrapped tight around their dads necks and waists. Tight embraces. Dads probably thinking back to the day these precious daughters were born into their lives. Dads perhaps thinking to the future when some other man will be the center of their daughter’s attention. And yet in this precious moment……beautiful strands of glass light bulbs hanging above the dance floor….. the warmth and sweetness of the atmosphere and the hearts of dads and daughters making a memory together.
Too much for my heart to try to explain. But a memory I hope will be locked forever in my mind and heart, as well as in the minds and hearts of all the daddies and daughters who were there tonight.