17 August 2008

Letting Go

This morning the missus and I took oldest daughter to the airport. As I write this she's flying over the Atlantic on her way to study abroad for one year. Having completed two years at the University of Oregon, she's set to study in Tampere, Finland (pictured above) for one year. It's a return to her roots in a way. I'm second generation Finnish on one side and first generation on the other side.

I hated like hell to say goodbye. She's 20 and has spent two years in college so she's ready and I should be ready for this too. But I'm not.

Couples often talk about having a baby. That's a misnomer. A child is born but it's only a baby for a short time. Then its a toddler, a small child, a pre-teen, a teen. An adult. God willing your child will be an adult to you for most of the time you two share the Earth. So let's be clear, people have humans that start out as babies.

I had the great luck to have Aimo Johannes Hourula as my father (1916-2008). No one has benefited from a father who was more loving, caring and proud. Through good times and bad I always took great comfort in knowing how much he cared for me. What he practiced was the very definition of unconditional love.

It has long been my goal to be the same sort of father to my two daughters. Given how wonderfully they've turned out I imagine I've been at least somewhat successful, but that's really for them to say and is likely just a testament to their mom.

What a thing to be a parent. To love, care and fret. Scold, counsel and forgive. Then the hardest part -- letting go. Some parents shove their children out the door. Others hold tightly to their child (even if there's a large distance between them) figuratively choking the child. My dad let go of me quite freely. He had faith. So I try to do the same. I suppose its natural to feel some sense of ownership when you've invested so much in another. But the very purpose of that investment in time, love, and care should be for that person to succeed on their own.

It's hard to put into words how proud I am of oldest daughter. She's wonderfully accomplished at the most basic and most important thing -- living. She enjoys life. Learns from it. Cares for others. Since she was a little child I've been touched by her empathy for others. She does quite well academically. But more importantly she's smart about navigating the vagaries of human existence. Of finding the good, of finding the fun. Of leaving any situation better than she found it. (These are traits she shares with a sister and four cousins, all of whom are grandchildren of Aimo Hourula).

She's going to do great in Finland and have a wonderful time. She'll come back changed, but knowing her, those changes will be the kind that see her become wiser and stronger.

So poor me, shedding a tear for myself because I don't get to hang out with oldest daughter for these many months. That's okay, I suppose. As long as there are accompanying tears of joy for her wonderful adventure.

Go get em, kid.

1 comment:

Chief said...

Cheers, mate. I am doing the same here. Shame we aren't closer, we could debate the merits and demerits of Caddyshack as we extol the virtues of our daughters.