When our daughter was 6 she used the word audacity in a sentence. Properly. Why? She was upset with a carnival employee who would not let her ride the Zipper. He told her she didn’t meet the height requirements. The adults in the group chuckled. She was very disappointed. The carnival employee was un-phased by her venom.

When she was 4, angry with us about something we wouldn’t let her do, she shoved a piece of paper under the door. On it, not one, not two, not three, but many, many sad faces filling up every square inch of the paper. We got the point. She was very, very angry.

And forget about trying to get her to wear a dress. Over and over this was an issue. My mother bought her the plainest first communion dress she could find. Two minutes after we got home from church, we found it crumpled in a ball on the floor of her bedroom. In it’s place, she donned a baseball uniform complete with wrist bands and hat for the party.

She could be fierce this daughter of ours. And, I had to keep reminding myself that fierce could serve her later.

And she could be tender.

Fascinated with “hobos” her questions were incessant. “Where do they live? How do they eat? How do they keep warm? Who will take care of them? How can I help them? Let’s help them.”

She was the kind of kid who would crawl in the dog basket pretending she was a dog, barking for a treat. Or kiss her pet rat. And she would work her way into our bedroom most nights, crawling in between us to sleep until she was 12! The night before 7th grade, she informed us she was too old to be sleeping with us. We listened, secretly saddened. We knew the day would come when these late night visits ended. My thoughts, “you will never be too old.”

And, she has cultivated lovely friendships. I’m touched by their sweetness with each other. I am proud that she worked through college, probably too much. Over and over, we tried to get her to back off the paying job and spend just a bit more time with school, the non-paying job. She didn’t take our advice.


Relentlessly independent from the moment she could communicate.

That’s our daughter. And resilient. And vulnerable. Like most kids, she’s had to deal with disappointments; friendships that went awry, jobs she did not get, loves that did not turn out how she wanted.

And as for school, she’s had to work hard to work hard.

Independent. Tender. Loyal. Quirky. Tenacious. Beautiful. That’s our daughter. And fun too.

I am proud of her, not because college was easy, effortless, and graceful. But rather, because it wasn’t. It was hard, challenging and awkward for her. And she kept on. When she could have easily given up, she didn’t.

With profound love in my heart, from high in the bleachers above, I watched her restless in the chair, listening to the keynote speaker and likely not really listening, but imagining, what’s next. I must admit, as hard as I tried to be “present” and hear the speaker’s wise and inspiring words to these graduates, I too was wondering the same thing.

What’s next?

Oh My Tender Heart!

The Graduate and Her Dad!


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6 Responses to A Milestone!

  1. Gary Oefinger says:

    Really beautiful, babe. Your words, at times, reach our souls.

  2. Amy says:

    So beautifully written, my dear friend. It warmed my heart! And, it’s so true!

  3. Mike P. says:

    What a wonderful post, full of honesty and love! Uncle M.

  4. Dolores says:

    Teresa, You captured our beautiful “Lissa.” Being able to witness her childhood days, I fondly remember her growing up….especially the “no dresses” part. You are terriffic parents who raised a young woman to be so very proud of. Congratulations Alyssa and Mom and Dad.

  5. anne tasselmyer says:

    Absolutely beautiful. You have such a wonderful way with words. I had to laugh at the part about hobos…I remember some funny things when the girls were younger. Thank you for sharing. And congrats to you and Gary.

  6. Triston Williams says:

    Congrats on the priceless memory and amazing accomplishment to both your daughter, you and Gary!

    Excellently written piece Teresa!

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