by: Rebecca Taylor

In celebration of Father’s Day

Previously published in Perspectives Magazine, 2008. 

I clothe a hero. I am Private Robert Jefferson’s uniform. Proudly we go into battle for our country but having his daughter Avonlea Rose nuzzled against me is far more precious than all the battles won. We must leave her to go and save others in far away places but no matter how much grime collects on me, I always recall the smell of her baby powder and shampoo. By being Private Jefferson’s military wear I feel the pain of leaving little Avonlea, but coming home to her is the most extraordinary feeling of all. Cradling her tiny body against my heart and seeing her magnificent smile look into his eyes and mine sends waves of emotion jolting through us both. Being a father is the greatest job in the world, some day I will retire and devote my life to raising her and hopefully others like her full time.

When we returned from a six-month tour of duty and first held the two-month-old close, we could not let her or Mrs. Jefferson out of our clutches. Holding them against us was like receiving the most prestigious prize for courage. The taste of Avonlea’s kisses is the most delicious banquet any parent could every partake in; her love sustains me when I am away. I can still hear the very first words the Private said to his tiny bundle of joy when he was alone with her. It was dark in the nursery and as I hung on the back of the bedroom door, he picked up the sleeping newborn and whispered so only she could hear, “I do what I do for you. The world is going to be a better place for you to live. Someday all the world will be at peace. I will be here with you when this happens.” Then he placed his daughter back in her crib and turned away, tears glistened in his eyes. He has never told anyone how hard it is for him to leave the child that he loves more than his own life, go to countries thousands of miles away, and fight to shield his daughter from the realities of the world. Because I am with him in battle and reside with him when we are home, I know all his innermost feelings and thoughts.

There are some days when we are in combat when it feels like a losing battle with firearms sounding all around us; and civilians, and soldier’s being hurt or killed. I know and so does the Private that we are there for a reason, we are trying to improve the world even if some days the progress isn’t as we would like. We are there to try and make the world a bit safer and to hopefully make it so others won’t have to take the kind of chances we are in battle. My soldier and I want to be able to spare others the kind of fear, sadness and sometimes despair that we see in the destruction of war.

As this soldier’s uniform, I am his protection in battle from all of Mother Earth’s elements but I cannot protect him from the longing he has for his darling Avonlea and his beloved Elizabeth. He wants to start more new life with her some day but he plans to wait until he is finished going overseas and has a job which will keep him on the home base. He hopes and prays that this will be soon and then he can be with his family every day, where he will not miss the important things in his family’s daily life. He wants to be able to stroke his baby girl’s golden curls every morning, tuck her in every night, and feel the love of her arms around him. He wishes to be there when she learns to say, “I love you too Daddy.” I want to be there too, to be able to see my soldier’s dreams come true and to be able to watch the expressions on his family’s faces everyday and feel the love seeping through as they clutch me.

Nobody has ever asked me but let me tell you anyway that fatherhood is the greatest gift any man can ever have. Don’t underestimate the powerful feeling it will give you. Fatherhood is hard, you have to protect your child and teach them what is right and wrong in the world so that the history that is being made as we speak does not repeat itself. Loving your child is the easiest part, so many people that are not parents do not understand how someone can love a child so much, but all you have to do is hold the child against you and let your heart melt to know.