The perfect gift …

Yesterday, November 17, 2012; was my youngest daughter’s 24th birthday.

I can remember the morning she was born vividly. I got home just in time to rush Donna to the hospital. Within minutes after arriving, Rebecca Sue Wines became part of our lives.

There’s been a ton of stories and lessons learned over the last 24 years. Many say that she’s the spitting image of her father and, if true; could explain many of those stories.

Like in most families, I’d imagine; not all the stories are fairy tale like. At the ripe old age of 6 or 7, she had even decided to run away from home. She packed 20 pair of socks, 1 pair of underwear, an electric tooth brush and a TV remote control into a grocery bag (she was in for the “long haul”…LOL). She was going to live with her Paw-Paw.

Back then, it was humorous and almost “cute” (There was no way her little stinky butt would make it more than 1 day with only 1 pair of panties!  LMAO ). Later in life, it’s not so funny. Our kids aren’t necessarily trying to “run away” anymore but, because we’ve raised them to be independent; they are trying to get out on their own and make their own way in life.

For me, that’s always been the hard part. Letting them go. I’d bet many of my Brother and Sister firefighters have the same problem.

We are protective in nature (as firefighters and parents). Maybe too much so. For me, it’s always boiled down to what I (we) do. Risking our lives, rescuing,  providing comfort / care and shielding from harm people we don’t even know. If I do that for a complete stranger, shouldn’t I also do the same for my own daughters (and to a higher degree)?

Well to do so, I want them close by. Right beside me so I’m sure to be there when needed. Not so easy a task after they’ve grown up and forged lives of their own.

Maybe part of wanting to keep them close by is out of guilt (for me anyway). For so much of their young lives, I was off doing just that … watching over complete strangers. I was at the firehouse instead of by their side. I missed the school plays, dances etc.

I worked two and sometimes three jobs. I wanted to give them everything I thought they wanted or needed. I somehow had the idea that material things mattered and I was never home.

Too little, too late or a complete misunderstanding of what was really important? Maybe both…. either way, it’s on me.

Somewhere along the lines, it happened. My two little girls grew up. Despite my misgivings (and thanks to the best wife / mother in the world), they both grew into beautiful, strong, independent young women.

I spent all that time trying to provided for them and instead, they’ve given me the perfect gift.

Randi-Jo is a graduate from Va Tech and Florida State. She holds several degrees including a Masters. She is a librarian in the City and is currently shopping to buy her first house.

Reba’s path was somewhat different. She finished school and started work but had gotten pregnant at an early age. As you can imagine, I was furious! I wanted more for her than what her mother and I had. I had hoped she (or Randi) wouldn’t have to face the same struggles. I had no idea what a blessing this pregnancy would be.

On April 17, 2008 the Buckaroo was born and my baby girl became a mother.

She’s a single mom bearing the responsibility in the absence of the father.

She’s worked hard and provided for the Buckaroo from the very beginning. A huge and daunting responsibility that she tackled head on.

As the Buckaroo has grown, so have we. I’ve become the kind of man as a grandfather that I should have been as a father (and know that I still have a long way to go).  I don’t know that I would have learned some of the lessons I have otherwise.

Reba has matured as well. She was a good kid, she’s an even better mother.

She now understands what it means to sacrifice for your children…. to NEED and WANT to.

She understands responsibility and has accepted hers.

I think she’s seen and now understands everything her mother did to prepare her for the challenges of life. I think she also knows that one day, she too will face many of those same challenges.

I can’t put into words the feeling I have from watching her grow and mature. PRIDE isn’t even close to covering it.

She (as well as Randi and their mother) is amazing in everything she does.

The funny thing is that she still thinks I am.

About 2 years ago, Rhett and I were in Atlanta for Fire Rescue International and our 2nd  9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. Reba sent me an e-mail that brought me to tears. I printed it out and carry it in my turnout coat. Here’s what she said …

“Dad ,  today after reading your most recent blog ” we are all climbing ” I wanted to tell you …..
Your the most amazing selfless person I know … You work so hard to save people you don’t know and at the same time are working hard to save all of us … You use your spare time to spread the word of your great job that in my opinion and yours you can’t call a ” job” it’s just something you were meant to do …. There is no one else in this world like you !!!! ( well the buckaroo and I – but we are exceptions bc we are only a mold ) …. Good luck on your climb I know you can do it ESP bc of the cause but also because I’ve never seen ANYTHING you can’t do !!!! ( well you might not be able to carry Rhett lol unless u had to ) ….. Anywho …. Just wanted to let you know your amazing in everything you do and the buckaroo and I love and miss you very much …. Be safe have fun ,
Love .. Reba and YOUR buckaroo :)”

You can read the post that sparked her e-mail by using the link below. You can also find out exactly how the Atlanta trip went in the 2nd link provided …. check em out.

 Read “We are all climbing” by clicking HERE

Read about Atlanta and the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb HERE

Maybe I did manage to do a little something right.

To see the woman she’s grown into over the last 24 years, to see how she’s raised the Buckaroo and all the lessons shes learning puts my mind at ease.

I think she understands at least a little of what it’s going to take and I have all the confidence that she’ll succeed.

It’s the perfect gift for a not so perfect father.

Again, the ironic thing here is that it’s HER birthday and I’m the one getting a gift (or at least that’s how I feel).

I hope she enjoyed #24 and can’t wait to know what she’s thinking on the Buckaroo’s 24th…. 20 years will go by in the blink of an eye (TRUST ME … the last 24 or hers and 4 of his did anyway).

So HAPPY 24th BIRTHDAY to my baby girl, Rebecca Sue Wines “Reba”!

I LOVE YOU more than I’ll ever be able to explain.

THANKS for all the “gifts” you’ve provided me over the last 24 years.

I hope you have all the blessings in life that you, Randi and the Buckaroo have provided your mother and me.

I hope you find everything in life and achieve every goal you reach for. I know you will.

Try to remember the good things I’ve tried to teach you (both of em …lol) and learn from the rest. If you manage that, you’ll be fine.

I’ll add this pic to remind you just how strong you are (and to embarrass ya a little more) … just look at those “muskles” .

And before the comments start rolling in …. just like with my sisters … the answer is NO! Settle down boys!

For all my loyal readers / followers, thanks for allowing me this personal post.

If you follow me on Face Book, you may know that I’m off injured. I had a small accident on the farm and thought I had broken my arm. The good news is that it’s not broken and healing well. I should be back to normal (my normal anyway) in a few days. Thanks for all the calls / messages etc. If you don’t follow me on Face Book, you need to! Click the link below and then “like” the page.

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Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines