Dad reflects on daughter’s milestone birthday

The first time I mentioned our daughter, Emma, in this column, she was 3 years old.

On Saturday, she turned 21.

I think that’s something.

The fact that Emma turned 21, I mean, not the fact that I’ve been writing a column since Emma was 3.

Have you ever tried to write a column? You should. It’s easy.

The reason that I think Emma turning 21 is something is because many years ago, when I turned 21, I thought that was something.

See, I was a moron, but unlike most morons I knew that I was a moron. So making it to 21 — for me — was a significant beating of the odds.

When I turned 21, I never figured that many, many, many (I’m trying to make a point here) years later I would have a daughter turn 21. Heck, I never figured I would get married, what with me being a moron and all.

But I did get married. Granted, I got married on a sailboat off the coast of Key West, Florida, so you could make the argument that we were in international waters so the marriage wasn’t official, but I don’t think that argument would work. The reason I don’t think would work is because, shortly after we were married-my wife tried to make that very argument and it didn’t work then.

I do remember a time, long before we were married, when my wife and I were watching an actress on TV. The actress happened to be named Emma, and at one point, my wife looked at me and said, “I think Emma would be a good name for a girl. What do you think?”

I said, “Uh, is there any more beer in the refrigerator?”

What that means is that long before we were married, my wife was thinking about having a daughter named Emma and I was thinking about having another beer.

Some things never change.

I’m actually OK with Emma turning 21, just as I was OK with Emma starting kindergarten or junior high or high school or college. I’ve always figured that because life goes on, Emma’s life is supposed to go on.

I’m also not one of those people who, when their child turns 21, says, “It all happened so fast.”

When I look back, it didn’t happen so fast.

Of course, that may be because I spent a significant portion of Emma’s life sitting in a dark auditorium watching dance recitals. Nothing slows life down like sitting in a dark auditorium watching dance recitals.

I’ve always tried to live in the moment, and when you do that, time doesn’t pass quickly — or at least it didn’t for me. That may change some day, but if it does, I’ll figure that it’s just part of life and go along with it.

On Monday morning, Emma will get on a plane in Kansas City, and she’ll fly to Florence, Italy, where she’ll spend the next several months studying.

That’s right, Emma turned 21 on Saturday and leaves for Italy on Monday.

I remember the conversation, several months ago, when Emma first asked about studying in Italy.

Emma: “So I have a chance to spend a semester in Flore—”


Me (at the roughly the same time): “That’s great. You should definitely do it.”

My wife and I approached Emma’s Italy plan from different directions, is what I’m saying.

But my wife has gradually come to terms with Emma’s plans to study in Italy and then dedicated the past few months to helping Emma prepare for her trip. And when I say “helping Emma prepare for her trip,” I mean “driving Emma and me crazy.”

So sometime Monday afternoon, my wife and I will return to our empty house, and our now 21-year-old daughter will be on her way to Italy.

I think that’s something.