My wife posted a picture of her father on Facebook for Christmas. It was a picture of him as Santa. For years he played Santa at his company’s Christmas party and in local malls and department stores. I was moved by how she cried when she posted the picture. She loved her dad dearly.
As she reminisced about him she told the story about his visit to her prom. I’ve heard the story many times over our thirty years together. Yet, each time I’m touched by the story, by her memories of it. I thought I’d give her the gift of writing the story.
It was 1966. High school proms were an important part of a young woman’s life. Judi loved every part of it. Being asked to the prom, finding the right dress, dying her shoes a soft pink to match her dress, finding the perfect pair of long gloves, getting her hair done, and then, of course, getting the corsage from her date. That’s her and her date in the above picture.
She was disappointed her father wouldn’t be home to see her picked up for the prom. He was a dedicated family man who would have loved to see her heading out for the night. However, it was challenging to feed a family with six children on one income. After his day shift at the local hot water tank manufacturing plant he played drums for the band he led. That night he had a gig that he had to be at.
Judi was disappointed. She was sad. Maybe even a bit mad that he wouldn’t take the night off to see her head out. This was important to her. He felt bad that he couldn’t be there, but he had responsibilities—to the rest of his family too.
Judi headed out to the prom. She was determined to have a good time. After all, she was a party girl. There was no time for sadness on this fun and memorable night.
The night progressed as planned. Lots of dancing interspersed with the odd soft romantic kiss and whispers of young love. It was a great night.
Late in the evening as she danced with her date she saw an older man come in through the back door of the gym and push through the long streamers that dangled to the floor from the ceiling. He was wearing a suite. She recognized that suit. It was the suit her father wore when he played with his band. It was him. He came to see her.
She was overwhelmed. She stopped dancing and ran to her father. He held out his arms and gave her a hug. It made her cry even harder.
“You’re here,” she tried to say through her crying.
As he pulled her in closer he said, “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.”
Judi continued to cry.
Her father said, “You look beautiful my girl. I’m so proud of you. Can we dance?”
It was a dance that Judi would never forget. Today when she shares that special moment with us it’s as if she relives it. It makes my eyes water too. I know that her love for him is still a big part of who she is today.
Judi, I pray that you will always have the memories of that night, that you will always know how much your father loved you.