As a father of a daughter, part of my life’s work has always been to frown at the boys Erin drug into our home. I’m not a particularly intimidating fellow but I did my best to really frown and look threatening at all of the guys who wanted to date or in any way get to know my baby girl. They all needed to know I had my girl’s best interests at heart and their interest should never bump into my interests or I would get excessively cranky. Marty, bless her heart, she just laughed at me.
Over the years Erin has drug in several guys, all okay in one way or another, none really acceptable to “the Dad”. None really lived up to the perfect sort of man for Erin, you know, a guy like, well me. Then one day she brought Lyle home. I don’t remember that first introduction, but I do know it didn’t occur to me at the time he was a contender for my daughter’s heart. My first impression was the same as most of the guys I had met, he didn’t really measure up to my standards, perfect, but that was okay, I figured he was just kind of a passing fancy.
It wasn’t long before we began to understand Lyle was not a temporary kind of thing, it appeared he was going to be a somewhat regular fixture with Erin. Frankly, I was a bit perplexed as he didn’t really seem to fit the mold of the previous suitors; he wasn’t necessarily the guy I would have selected but then I wasn’t picking and apparently didn’t get a whole lot of input in the selecting. I pressed Erin a bit on this fact in a lot of subtle and some not so subtle ways like, “what the hell are you thinking anyway”. She came back with, “trust me on this”. My response, “fine, it’s your life.” Sure.
Slowly we began to get to know Lyle and he began to know Erin’s family and our particular situation. I watched Lyle closely, I watched Lyle with Erin, I watched Lyle with Marty. I wanted to gauge his level of comfort with Marty, test his level of comfort with her as a person, and as Erin’s mother. I wanted to see how he handled Marty’s disability.
Lyle had never known Marty before her strokes; he didn’t know exactly how smart, how quick, how funny she was. He didn’t know Marty as the protective, meddling, problem solving consummate Mother she had been. He only saw her as she was today, a person in a wheelchair with significant disabilities. He was not scared, he was not put off, he was not afraid. He touched her, he hugged her, he talked to her as a person, he kissed her and let her kiss him. I was most impressed; he passed the can you handle the broken Mom test.
I got to know Lyle even better on a “bonding” trip from Waco to our lake house, just the two of us. I got to expound and advise ad nauseum; he listened patiently and told me stories about himself, his life and how he grew up. We confessed some of our sins and talked about why we sinned. Our backgrounds were remarkably similar. We talked and listened to the filthy comic stylings of Rodney Carrington, a real experience to have with the father of your girl friend. He was a good guy, I was still a skeptic, this was my baby girl who wanted me to “trust her on this”. Okay.
My big epiphany with Lyle came when he sat with Erin right before and after she had surgery. Lyle was there to hold her hand, Lyle was there to watch her, Lyle was there when I couldn’t be there to make sure Erin was safe. Lyle didn’t run, Lyle didn’t shy away when it got a little hard, Lyle had sand, Lyle had substance.
Given the last five years with Marty I have come to value the importance of substance, the importance of being there beside your partner when it gets bad, when it gets a bit stinky, scary and your heart gets a little tight from anxiety. Finding someone who will sit with you when you are sick, someone who will hold your hand when you are afraid and vulnerable, someone who will hold your hair when you are riding the porcelain bus is really one of the great things in life. I know if I had been the one who had the strokes Marty would have held my hand.
It appears Lyle can do that too. Erin was right all along, I just need to “trust her on this”.