By Gabrielle Gardiner
“To us?” he offered with a heartwarming smile that complimented his deeply tanned wrinkles. “To us,” I replied definitively, grinning as I lifted my narrow champagne glass to clink his ever so gracefully. As we sipped and gazed out at the glistening bay, listening to the subtle chatter of people nearby enjoying their meals, I couldn’t help but think of how lucky I was to be celebrating the achievement of my lifelong dream with my best friend.
You see, a decade ago, I would have thought you were crazy if you told me that my father and I would ever have such a close relationship. Because to be honest, before my father sent me away, I never really knew him. Throughout my childhood, my mom had always been my hero. Back then I had only seen my dad as a workaholic; the picture-perfect businessman straight from the offices of Wall Street who cared more about his career than his family. I remember constantly wondering why my mother had fallen in love with such a boring, serious man when she was his polar opposite.
I’ll always remember the time my mother and I built a tree house together when I was just seven years old. It’s still at the edge of the property where I grew up, weathered from years of Pennsylvania precipitation. As an adventurous second grader with a sky wide imagination, I had begged my parents for my own hideaway among the canopy of branches in our cherry blossom tree. My father originally said he would install one, but the weeks passed and his excuses only became more pathetic. So one weekend when my father was away, my mother and I set to work ourselves, piecing the tree house together, plank by plank. As simple as it sounds, it’s one of my fondest remembrances. To this day, my father still lives in our large house on that property, which is so rich with memories of her.
My mother had been everything to me, so when I heard the news of her death as (more…)