Where the definition will change is here; a small golden girl, blue eyed, giggly, stubborn daydreamer, hitched on her Daddy side, her naked flat chest pressed against his round belly, his tattoos: we cannot see the step in this father- there are no steps between his heart, and hers.
I was pregnant when we fell in love. Who could have been more surprised than I? After 9 years of best friendship, 9 years of friends-with-benefits for weeks, months at a time and then lulls where we were simply best at ease, after again bringing a baby into the world with a man who I knew in my heart I had no true future with, after the self-recrimination and shame of another pregnancy without marriage, another move away from my degree, money, stability, with no intentions of doing anything but graduating at all costs and providing a better life than I had known: I fell in love with my best friend. Mr. Curry waited patiently through the pregnancy: he had loved me since day one, and I refused to do anything while pregnant; it just felt...rude to the baby. I was acutely aware of my significantly declined reputation, and unwilling to anything else viewed as possibly trashy or plain stupid. So we waited.
We were married when Lola was six months old. Mr. Curry was such a gentleman that by the time I laid a hand on him, I had to physically throw myself on him to assure him, yes, this is what I want, and yes, I want YOU. We were married on the shores of La Jolla Beach, children around us, boys beautiful and awkward in their suits and combed hair, Lola angelic in her white Christening dress, never to be Christened. Our honeymoon was on a pull out couch in the living room while Lola slept in our bedroom and the boys stayed with Grandparents.
He loved her the way a good man loves a baby: with patience, generosity of spirit, never openly resenting the complete meshing of baby and mother, the constant nursing, her colicky nights, always understanding of my fatigue, worried when she cried in her carseat for too long, giving her the place of first as a newly married man, gladly.
Lola loved Mr. Curry the way that all babies love him: immediately, ridiculously, reaching for him, grinning, laughing, staring at him in bug eyed love. And he in turn loved her. He came home after work to find Lola and I, curled up together, Lola nursing on my tripled, leaking breasts, Tom Petty playing on the radio, and his eyes filled with tears. It was love for Lola and I bringing those tears, not just me, his new wife, but this baby girl that miraculously was now his as well, the baby who woke us in the middle of the night to sit up and laugh and kiss his face before we faced her, arms round her chubby body, and fell back asleep. He walked her and played with her all day and night when I was sick, throwing up in the bathroom, bringing her to me only to nurse, and quickly taking her when she was done, to change her, put her to sleep. He talked to her constantly, eyes crinkling, filled with love, and her face steady on his, sure of his love, his place in her life as her father. Her biological father was visiting steadily, a part of her life. This was what she knew.
Mr. Curry: Poppa, Pop-Pop, Daddy, all these things she calls him, and they are all as part of her as her own blood: his arms picking her up when she was caught underneath the garage door, his body next to hers at bedtime, his voice reading, his laughter at Father/Daughter day, his voice calling her as he always has, ' my girl '.
He has overidden the status of blood with the status of the heart.
For me, this great joy will be an everlasting one: that I, who had a father I struggle to comprehend, a brilliant, abusive and ill man who dictacted my childhood with his fierce rages and lies and abuse, was able to provide my daughter with the kind of father I had always dreamed of having: one who lives day by day in his family as if there is no place on Earth he would rather be.