Yesterday my daughter Shelby turned 19 years old.

All that remains is my memories of her.

My little princess.  My “Shelbinator”.

I picked her name.

She is a beautiful woman now.  Kind of hard to imagine it.  No matter what, I KNOW I did well as a father.

With her “ginger” naturally curly hair (though she always straightens it).  She got the color from her mother but the curls were all from me.

Her beautiful freckles.

Her birthmark on her belly.

Her glasses that always make her look so much older though she wears contacts.

I still remember how she scared me when she was born.  3 days of labor.  Walking around the hospital for hours at a time for 3 days to “push her along”.  On July 6, 1997 at Ft. Belvoir Hospital in Virginia.  I had gone to get a snack from the vending machine.  The nurse yelled for me in the hall to come right away.  Her heart-rate had skyrocketed and they were forced to induce.  Some might talk badly and ask why I was getting a snack?   I never even got the snack out of the machine even though I paid for it.  I laugh about it now.  Someone got a free snack.  All that matters is I was there to see her beautiful face as she was being born.  I was there.

Seeing her face light up with the presents from Christmas time that the Marine Corps had donated because I was just a Lance Corporal at the time.  She thought they were all from me.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her.  She was so innocent.  She thought I was her “Super-Hero”.  I was there.

Her playing “baby-Jesus” in the nativity play at the church (I was naturally Joseph).  I was there.

Her baptism.  I was there.

Seeing her onto the bus on her first day of kindergarten.  I was there.

I was her tooth-fairy after she lost the first (and many more) teeth.  I was there.

Watching her face light up when I told her we were bringing her to Disney.  Priceless.  Her being the only one laughing at me when I kissed the Snow White statue on the cheek.  I miss her sense of humor.  I was there.

Playing Polly-Pockets dolls with her in her room for hours.  I was there.

Jumping into a Holiday Inn pool during a birthday party with my regular clothes on to SAVE her life from drowning (even though I’m a terrible swimmer).  I was there.

Watching her dive off a diving board like an old-pro with no fear.  Watching her master swimming lessons.  My parents (who she isn’t allowed to see anymore) paid for them.  I’ll always be grateful for that.  I was there.

Her earning her red belt (and all previous belts) in Tae Kwon Do.  I was there.

Her wrestling to be just like me and to make me proud.  Her losing 7 times in one day at a wrestling tournament but still wanting to wrestle more so she could beat one of the “boys”.  She was relentless.  She did make me proud.  I was there (Coaching her all the way).

Her playing right-field in softball watching the world happen around her.  She of course wanted a pink glove  I was there.

Her announcement that she had her first boyfriend.  I was there.

The time she burned her arm with scalding hot water making her mother tea.  I was the first one in the kitchen when I heard the blood-curdling scream.  I had the speed of a “Super-Hero”.  I was there.

Her first prom.  I was there.

Watching her favorite shows on television (is “Pretty-Little Liars” still on?).  I was there.

Me acting like a fool playing Rock-Band on the Wii just to make her laugh.  I was there.

Assisting her on her first tax-return even after the Divorce.  I was there.

Sure, I missed some things because I had to work so hard to keep providing for her and her brother.

No other man was there.  I was there for it all.  I was there.  These memories can never be erased no matter what others try to do.  They are all that remain for me.

Unfortunately I’ve missed so much in the last two-plus years of her life.

I missed her graduation from high-school (which hurts badly because I know how proud I am of her…she was always so incredibly smart).

I missed her first tattoo.

I will miss her going to College.

I will miss her wedding.

She will miss my second marriage and never get to know such a wonderful, caring and loving woman that I have in my life.

I will miss her children being born (my grand-children…hopefully not too soon!).

She will miss me getting old.

She will miss my Funeral.