My daughter has a good friend. There’s a bit of an age gap — perhaps about 50 years — but neither one seems to notice or care.
Her name is Robin, and she was formerly in a relationship with my Dad, who passed last September. She and my Dad met by way of his cousin, my second cousin. CP and I met her two years ago when she and my father came to visit, bearing a stuffed bunny and some homemade carrot cake muffins. She won both of our hearts with these gifts. (What can I say? We’re easy.)
My Dad’s relationship with Robin didn’t last as long as his friendship with her. But that was OK because CP still got to see her sometimes, and when she did, she was in seventh heaven. I can’t explain it, but my daughter just finds her incredibly magical. And I suppose in some ways she is. She’s a very cool, interesting woman who is deeply connected to art and nature. And I don’t even know her as well as my daughter does because when we do see her, CP commandeers Robin and I don’t see either of them for very long. My daughter grabs her by the hand and tells me in so many words to give them their privacy.
Robin is a puppeteer. She’s youthful and imaginative without being flighty or irresponsible. She makes her own puppets and masks, spins wool, and felts. She’s a gifted artist and a bike mechanic. She has a calm, easy way about her, yet has a seemingly endless supply of energy. She’s a teacher. I would have never been able to teach my daughter that Phoenixes are girls and dragons are boys or how to use a spinning wheel.
With all of ways I can cause myself to worry about my three year old daughter in her tiny friendships with other kids at daycare or on the playground: Is she getting her feelings hurt? Is she marching to her own beat and everyone thinks she’s weird? Is she losing herself to follow the herd, keeping her mouth shut with her eyes trained downward on her Hello Kitty shoes? … I never feel that way when I see her with Robin. I love the beauty, blooming imagination, wonder, and safety of their friendship. Their relationship has opened my eyes to the brilliance in trust, the bond through creativity. And I believe that it’s so important for my daughter to have creative outlets, to be exposed to more than just what this mom knows. I love the idea of it, but I suppose sometimes I forget to slow down enough to guide her or to learn with her. Robin introduces my daughter to art in a way that I never understood it.
At the reception following my father’s funeral service, she tended to CP in a way that only family could have. And although my daughter will probably never remember much about her Grandpa, I believe that she and Robin’s special friendship honors his memory.