The girl finally stopped crying, safe in her fathers arms. It was a nasty cut, but nothing a Wiggles band-aid, a Freddo Frog and a hug from Daddy wouldn’t fix.
Cradling the girl on his lap, she looked up at him with her crystal blue eyes.
“Daddy, I love your cuddles”
“I love your cuddles, too, my Princess”
Reassured, she nestled back into his arms.
“Daddy” her crystal blue eyes implored “Why don’t you ever cry?”
The burly man thought for a few minutes. There was no doubt that he was a stoic man, even cold at times.
“Daddy does cry, Princess”
“But I never see you cry” she continued
He drew her into his thick-set chest and cradled her head. “Let me show you something, Princess” he requested, as she climbed on his back for a journey upstairs.
The girl had been in her parents bedroom hundreds of times before, but she had never, ever seen Daddy’s Memory Box. He fished out a key from behind the bed-head and retrieved a tin box, hidden up in the cupboard behind his t-shirts.
Puzzled, the girl asked “Whats that, Daddy?”
“This is Daddy’s box of memories. This is where I keep all my tears” he smiled, yet with a visible well emerging from his left eye. “You mean you keep all your tears in one box!” she giggled
He tinkered with the lock and undid the lid.
“Princess, this is where Daddy cries. These are the precious things to me – my box of memories”.
Sitting on his crossed legs, she felt comforted feeling his strong arms around her, as he carefully opened the contents of the small box.
“Who are those people?” the girl enquired, pointing at some faded photographs.
“Why, that is me, your uncle and aunty and Granny and Grandpa, when I was about your age. That was a very special holiday” he explained, with a single tear dropping on the old photograph.
“And what’s this?” she questioned, picking up a strange black box.
“Darling, that is a dictaphone. That plays little tapes. Your Grandpa – my dad – used to speak some very important things into it”
“For when he used to preach at church?”
“Yes Princess, and lots of other things”
The girl could see her dad’s reflection in the mirror, his upper sleeve rubbing away the redness in his moist eyes
“And whats this letter?”
“That is the first letter your mummy ever wrote to me. She told me that she likes gerbra’s and she would love to go to the beach with me”
“Mummy still loves gerbras, doesn’t she” the girl commented. She spotted something new looking – it was a ribbon from her dance concert “Oh Daddy – why do you have one of my hair ribbons in your special box of memories?” He hugged her especially tight and she felt teardrops fall on her strawberry-blonde hair
“Princess, seeing you dance on stage was so special to me – I know you were in a class, but to me, you were the only girl on that stage and I thought you were just beautiful”
Over the next twenty or so minutes, the man emptied the box – it was full of trinkets and football cards and badges and coins, photographs, bottle tops and little things. The dad explained every little thing to his daughter – sometimes laughing, sometimes weeping, sometimes, just looking. She asked him lots of questions and laughed and cried and watched and snuggled into his arms.
When he had finished, he put everything away, slowly, delicately, deliberatly. Every memory had its right place. He dried his eyes and gave her a hug. Methodically, he re-hid the box and hung the key up, back in its secret place behind the bed-head.
Wiping the last tear from his eye, he held his little girl close
“Princess, this is where Daddy cries. When I cry, I just like to be alone and look at the things that are most precious to me – my happiest things – and then I don’t feel so sad. I can look at my things and remember happy times. Then I can put them back in my box. I put my memories back in my box and keep them safe, locked away so no one can snatch them away. Then I feel happy.
The girl hugged her daddy. His scratchy face tickled her cheek. She breathed a big waft of his nice after-shave and relished her daddy, who she had seen cry.