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Your Children Teach You Well
Paul Corrigan

20 June 2001

My daughter graduates from elementary school tomorrow. This event means more to me than my college undergraduate and graduate school ceremonies, both of which I did not attend. On my desk at home above my computer monitor is a picture of my daughter hugging me after her preschool graduation. She wore a light blue graduation cap and a wide smile with one front tooth missing. I remember well how she wrapped both arms around my neck and squeezed the breath out of me. It remains one of my most cherished memories.

Although she is only ten years old, Katie has been the apple of her dad's eye since the day the delivery room nurse handed her into my arms. She was crying then but since then it has been mostly smiles and laughter. Bathing her in the sink. Cleaning scrambled egg off her face. Dipping her toe in the Pacific Ocean on a trip to San Francisco. Laughing out loud with my wife as we watched her eat the spiciest chicken wings we had ever tasted at an outdoor concert at the Hatch Shell in Boston. Watching her sleep back-to-back to Domi Dog, our Bichon that protected her as if she was her pup. Seeing her face light up, her mouth wide open in awe, as she laid eyes on her younger brother for the first time. Trying to keep pace with her, dressed as a pumpkin, while she went door to door for the first time on Halloween. Playing audience for her dress-up and home productions of kids' theater.

Katie's smile and warm heart helped get me through the hardest time of my life, the death of my mother. The night my mother died Katie played "tea cups" with her Nana in the hospital. My mother died with the comfort that life had passed to a new generation. I looked into Katie's eyes and knew my mom's sacrifices were rewarded. I knew for the first time the meaning of life.

Before I knew it, my little girl was growing up. We framed her artwork and helped her sell her handmade jewelry. I helped coach her soccer team, went to piano recitals, and drove home 300 miles after dropping her off at overnight camp. She can outswim me and is much more comfortable than I am on a horse. Together we wrote a story for children. I hope that one day she will draw the illustrations. We go for walks early in the morning and eat breakfast together on our deck. Tomorrow my daughter graduates from elementary school.

My little girl is growing up.

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