Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sweet 16

Pict0050_2Jayne, 16 years ago today you entered this world, enriching our lives beyond measure. The years have flown by, and my heart aches that we will never again play basketball in the driveway, hit baseballs in the park, or go to Fall Out Boy concerts together.  But the void is filled with a different kind of joy, as I watch you develop into a remarkable young woman.  I am secretly happy that your breathtaking beauty, buoyant intelligence, and exuberant personality are, thus far, intimidating to most of the boys in your sophomore class.

Although I am bursting with pride at your many academic and athletic accomplishments, I am prouder still of simply who you are and the person you are becoming.  Your recent mission trip to South Africa embodies your fervent faith, serving heart, and fortitude and maturity way beyond your years.

I have made more than my share of mistakes through these 16 years and in many ways have not been as good a father as you deserved. But I want you to know that I love you beyond measure and will be cherishing every day of these next two years before you leave our home to make your way in the world. I am especially looking forward to our upcoming vacation together in San Diego, and hoping it will be as memorable as our time together at the JH Ranch Father-Daughter coming-of-age camp (and our trips to Washington, D.C.)

I cherish the story you wrote in sixth grade, My Daddy, which I keep on a special shelf in my office:

Sometimes it is hard to let people go.  One moment, you are swinging them up in the air and giving them kisses, and the next moment they are gone.  A huge bit of your life, snipped away bit by bit. ...

Even though his work day is tiring, my Daddy always has time to hit balls in the park with me or to play basketball in the driveway until the sun sets and it grows dark and we can't see the basket anymore.  Then we meander inside and watch the news as I sit between my Daddy's knees, watching my life unfold.  Him growing older.  Me growing older.  My life beginning to unravel like a ball of yarn.  Snip by snip.  Bit by bit.

I remember him lifting me up high in the air and twirling me around in high arches as the salt water sprayed my fat little legs.  I watched him, trusting him, loving him.  He is my Daddy.  He swung me around like I was nothing and everything at the same time.  My hair static and free.  I was loving every minute of it.

I remember piggy back rides to my bedroom. Me feeling like I was on the top of the world, that I could touch the sun. My fingers brushing the top of the ceiling, as Daddy warned, "watch the fingerprints," even though I knew he didn't care.  It was wonderful to know that somebody out there was willing to stop and give me a lift to wherever I needed to go.

I remember Daddy pushing me on the swings, with each arc going a little higher.  In my mind, I could see myself touching the sky, with Daddy behind me, lifting me up.  "Look, Jayne, you're flying," yelled Daddy as the wind whipped my white hair.  I was free, more free than I had ever been in my entire life.

I remember soccer games with Daddy as coach.  The drills which seem so simple now caused me years of frustration.  Games that he made fun.  And as he passed me on to a new coach, I realized that as I grew older, I was letting go, snip by snip.

I remember playing baseball in the park.  Me hitting balls 2 feet in the air when I was lucky, which most of the time I was not.  My Daddy saying I was getting better.  A litter of brand new white balls behind home plate, the smell of sand in our noses.  All that was left was Daddy and me, and baseball, together.

I remember being with Daddy at the pool, begging him to go under -- that was the moment he became Dad, just Dad.  No longer a Superman figure afraid of nothing.  I saw his humanness and I balked.  I wasn't ready to say goodbye to Superman.  In my mind, I thought, this isn't Daddy.  Daddy's the one who kills spiders in the bathtub, and isn't afraid to check closets for monsters or to watch scary monsters.

Gradually, I began to realize, this is Dad.  Human, someone who makes mistakes and who is willing to risk anything for his family.  Yes, he isn't Superman.  He's someone better.  My Daddy.  As I go through my adolescent years, I am losing bits and pieces of my life.  I realize now that I can't touch the sky, and I'm almost as tall as my Daddy.  Sometimes, it's hard to let people go, like it was hard to let Superman go, and eventually my Daddy will have to let go of me.  I know that he is always there to hold on to as long as I need to, and there will always be a thread connecting me to him, no matter how far away I am.  My Daddy, my Superman, me and him, a team.

Miscellaneous | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Sweet 16:


What a lovely tribute to your daughter and by her to you. I had the privilege of spending time with you and your wonderful family in 2001 (if memory serves me on the year) in San Diego, and I was impressed then by the sincerity of each of you -- and even more so now. Best wishes to all.

Posted by: Katherine Pearson | May 22, 2008 9:06:54 AM

Paul, thank you for your Sweet 16 - How soon it happens.

Posted by: Steve Odem | May 21, 2008 3:03:57 AM

Very moving, Professor Caron. You put into words the very things I'd like to say to my own 16 year old daughter. It's clear you two have a very special relationship. Good for the two of you.

Posted by: Pete Terranova | May 20, 2008 12:55:13 PM