Tonight I pulled out a simple, white cotton handkerchief worn soft. It was my dad's. More than twenty years ago when I was part woman and part girl, wandering my way through my first broken heart, he handed it to me to dry my tears. I sat tucked up under his arm in his big, black pick-up truck like a little girl. When he pulled away that night, I kept his handkerchief clasped in the palm of my hand.
Since then, I've experienced so much on this crazy ride of life. And on days like today, when I've learned life's lessons the hard way, I've opened my dresser drawer more than a time or two and held this handkerchief. Recently someone described me as a little girl. I've thought about that a lot tonight. I suppose I am.
I'd rather swing with my toes stretched to the sky than sit on the park bench. I'd rather watch a Disney movie snuggled up with a blanket on the sofa than cringe through the latest thriller at the theater. I'd rather turn pages of adventure about Tom and Huck or Laura and Pa than the latest bestseller. I like to catch cool raindrops on my tongue and wish on the brightest star I can find. I like to lick the batter from the brownie bowl. (And I'm not above getting some of it on your nose if you get too close.) I'd rather eat fried catfish than sushi and caviar. I like to shoot the boys' marshmallow guns and swing across the monkey bars. I like to jump in the leaves and have my dad give us a running start down snowy hills on the sled. I like to blow bubbles into the breeze and whisper about dreams after the lights are out. I like to walk into my mama's house and smell her meatloaf cooking. (And after she's asleep I am apt to get another piece of apple pie.) It makes me sad when people choose teams because someone is always last. And I think we ought to all hold hands.
I've played on the big playground. I shook the hand of the Prime Minister of Israel and held my grandma's as she lay paralyzed from a stroke. I've given birth to two precious boys and laid my hands on the caskets of those I love beyond measure. I've slept across from Central Park and in an empty farm house before the estate sale. I've handled multi-million dollar accounts and cried in the presence of the homeless. I am by nature a highly driven person and have spent far more days, months and years being serious than silly.
But my heart is still the same tender, open garden of that little girl in long, brown braids on her tree swing and wooden horse among the tiger lilies.
I don't think I want that to change.
So if you visit very often, I'll let you know in advance that I am...
Still just a little girl,
P.S. That night my dad gave me this handkerchief he handed me a cassette with my favorite song at the time, "Where've You Been" by Kathy Mattea. His fatherly advice tonight? To get the guitar.