So I was 5. It was Christmas. We were on our way to my grandparent's farm to exchange gifts and visit with our cousins. I sat in the back seat with my brand new purse. It was black, patent leather, with Minnie Mouse on the front. I remember the strap being so long that I could wear it like a messenger bag. Actually, Ainsley would call it a satchel. I also remember the mouse ears and the big red bow.
We stopped at a store just down the street from the farm. I don't remember why. But I do remember walking through the aisles. I don't remember taking the purse off. I don't remember putting it on a shelf. But I do remember heading down the road and realizing it was gone.
I begged to go back. My dad refused. I cried. He still refused. We headed on our way, and my purse was gone.
That purse probably would have ended up in the bottom of a toy box. I don't remember ever being crazy about Minnie Mouse and I don't remember loving to carry purses around. However, I remember that moment when my stomach just crashed and this thing that I loved for the day was gone forever. My dad spat lessons from the front seat, "You need to take care of your stuff," "I'm not keeping up with your stuff," "You're old enough to know better."
And all that was true. I don't remember ever leaving something behind like that again. So I did learn the lesson. But it was a tough one to swallow at 5.
Yesterday, we left Target and as we pulled out of the parking lot Ainsley spoke up from the backseat.
"Oh no! My necklace," she cried.
"What necklace?" I asked.
"My Hello Kitty necklace is gone. I think I put it on the princess doll."
My initial reaction was, oh well...it's just a dumb little necklace. But before I could say anything, Clif pulled into another spot.
"You put your necklace on a doll in the store?" he asked.
"Yes," she cried.
He was irritated, but he got out, opened the van door and took her back into the store.
They were gone for awhile. They checked the toy aisles, the bathroom, the lost and found, the girls section. No necklace.
Ainsley came back red eyed.
We drove on, the sadness in the car heavy.
"Ainsley, maybe we could get a movie and eat popcorn when we get home," Clif said as he glanced at her in the rear view mirror.
"Yes!" Ainsley exclaimed. So we stopped and got the movie - The Smurfs...again. Got back in the car and headed home.
It was a dumb necklace...just like it was dumb purse. But I bet Ainsley won't be thinking about it 30 years later. She probably won't have a story like this to tell because I'm sure the details will fly from her mind. At some point in her life, she'll be angry with us. She'll pull away and try her wings. She'll throw fits and we'll have arguments. She'll break the rules and we'll punish her.
But somewhere deep inside, she'll know that Daddy was always on her side. That he always had her back. That he was always willing to do whatever it took to make her smile. And that will be the story that she tells her kids.
****************************Okay, so this post was meant to show you what an awesome father Clif is. But this story actually has a very funny ending that I absolutely have to share. After picking the movie and heading home, Ainsley found the necklace...on her neck! Imagine that. It had fallen below her shirt and she said "It must have just disappeared and then came back because it knew that I loved it."