From Chicken Soup for the Father & Daughter Soul

Connected by Love

Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.

Psalm 102:18

“Dad, it just doesn’t get any better than this, does it?” I leaned over his shoulder as he rocked my three-month-old granddaughter, his great-granddaughter, Elizabeth.

“No, Sis, it sure doesn’t.”

It was the day of her dedication, and my house was filled with family and friends, all coming to meet our newest family member. As we admired her, my husband, Neal, and daughter, Amanda, walked over with a family friend.

“Okay, Charles,” said Neal with a grin, “my turn.” Dad handed her up to Neal so our friend could get a better look. The friend stroked her cheek with his finger and said, “She sure looks like you, Neal. She has your eyes.” Then he nodded at my dad. “Great-grandpa, you can’t deny her either. She has your mouth and chin.”

We smiled and gave each other a knowing look— neither man was a blood relative to my daughter and me. Mom married Dad when I was three. I married Neal when Amanda was two. And yet, I had to agree with our friend that Elizabeth did look like them both.

That evening Mom and Neal stayed in the kitchen to finish straightening up, but Dad and I opted for coffee on the porch. We sat in the rockers and enjoyed the twilight as the soft breeze caressed our faces. After a while, Dad broke the silence.

“You know, Sis, today reminded me of when our family would gather at the farm.”

I nodded. “Yes, it does.”

A cicada began his raspy call, taking me back to my dad’s old home place, where we would visit his mother and father, known to me as Granny and Granddaddy. While rocking, lost in memories of days there as a child, I remembered a conversation Mom had with Granny in the kitchen back then. I sipped my coffee and rocked. “Dad, isn’t it funny how people have always thought I looked like you?”

“What’s that, Hon?”

“I remember Mom remarking to Granny how surprised she was that I was so tall since Mom was only five feet tall. Granny, never looking up from her biscuit bowl, said, ‘Why, she got her height from Charles.’”

Dad chuckled. “She never thought of you as anything but my biological child. As a matter of fact, I haven’t either.” Tears began to well in my eyes.

Then Dad asked, “Do you remember at Granny’s funeral when I introduced you and Neal and Amanda to my cousin, and she said Amanda was the image of me and Neal?”

“I’d forgotten that.” I patted his knee. “Well, Dad, I guess you and Neal have such strong genes that they leap genetic barriers with a single bound.” By now fireflies lit the night while crickets and tree frogs sang in full chorus. “More coffee?” I asked.

“Sounds good, Sis.”

I took the cups and went inside to refill them. When I started back outside, I saw Dad through the window. With tears freely running down my cheeks, I watched him as he rocked, and I thought how lucky I was to have such a man for my father.

Then it hit me. When fate dealt the same blow to me as it did my mother years ago and I was left a single parent, there, waiting in the wings, was Neal—a man who would love my daughter as fully as my dad loved me. The power of love knitted three generations together so much so that we even look alike. Although life didn’t connect us genetically, love did.

Linda Apple

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