Someone recently commented they wished I was in the wedding planning business instead of the funeral business. This was in hopes my columns would be a little more upbeat.

They make a good point and I get it. If I had it my way, all my columns would be filled with nothing but joy and happiness. Writing a column that’s read as dark is written from a dark place. It’s not always fun. It is always rewarding in time. Unfortunately, life gives us sad times along with the happy ones. Maybe that helps us appreciate the good times more.

On Sept. 19, 1988, my life would change forever with the birth of my daughter, Lindsey Kay. Country music singer Gary Allen sings a song called “Tough Little Boys.” It talks about tough little boys turning into babies when they become dads. This is true in my case. There is another line about how one little girl with little blonde curls can totally terrify a dad. This line fits my story perfectly. From the second she was born; I knew a love that was different from any other earthly love. She was part of me. She was part of her mom. She had 10 fingers and 10 toes. God had given us a healthy baby girl and I had to bow my head and give thanks.

What a joy it was to watch her take her first steps. Seeing her running down the hallway to find out if Santa had come while she slept. I remember every time she would run a high fever or have an allergic reaction. We would rush to the hospital and pray. When these times would come, every bad thing I’ve ever done came to my mind. It was a joy hearing her say her first words. This would be the start of a lifetime of clear communications by my little girl. She said whatever was on her mind from the time she started talking. Lindsey would always argue her point without losing her respect for her parents. I can’t think of a time in my life that she ever embarrassed me. Though I’m sure there have been many times I have embarrassed her. Even so, she has stood by her daddy when many others would not. Her loyalty is one of the many things I have learned to admire in her.

Watching her grow from a child, to a teen, to adulthood has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. Although her mom and I divorced when she was four, neither of us divorced our child. This never stopped me from being in Lindsey’s life. I believe being in the lives of our children is a choice. There is nothing that would have stopped me from seeing and talking to my daughter. This holds true today and will until my time on earth is done. One phone call stands out when she was younger. She called me late one night and said, “Daddy. I was saved tonight.” There are no sweeter words a parent can hear. This didn’t prevent the growing pains through her teen years and early adulthood. Because of our similarities, we have butted heads. Unlike some, we didn’t just become friends and lose the parent-child relationship. We are friends. But we’re daddy-daughter first.

Lindsey has been dating Steve Shrout for quite a while. She’s had several boyfriends during her life, and I have not been easy on any of them. I’ve been quite the contrary. There has been something different between her and Steve than I’ve ever seen between her and anyone else. In time, it appeared to me that they were truly partnering in this thing called life. A few days ago, I had dinner with them. When Lindsey excused herself for a minute, Steve asked for her hand in marriage. He told me he planned on asking her the next morning when they were on a hike. But he said he wanted my blessing first. I was caught off guard having no idea this was coming. I knew this day would come. Yet, I didn’t know how special the moment would be. I gave him my blessing and told him I believe he makes her better. He responded, “She makes me better.” I knew then that I had not lost a daughter but gained a son.

While listening to “Tough Little Boys” on the way home, a tear rolled down my cheek.

Chris Collett is a longtime Cherokee County resident.

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