I was driving the other day when out of nowhere, directly in front of me, I saw this magnificent bald eagle swoop down in front of my car. His wingspan was awesome and his talon’s looked like daggers at such close range. He was after his prey, and myself and the big black truck that I was driving, were not going to deter him. My car came to an abrupt stop as I gaped at this powerful creature. Instantly, and because I’m not very original, one of my favorite songs popped in my head (because I’m cursed enough to have a brain that attaches a memory to virtually everything I see).
“And he will raise you up on Eagles Wings.
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.”
Father Jan Michael Joncas 1979
And then I thought about my first love.
I was unaware at first, but I hear that he was smitten with me from day one. Lucky girl I’m thinking. I ruined, or got him out of, his Christmas Party I’m told, because I showed up a little too early. Apparently that’s my thing. His strength, work ethic, loyalty and generosity captured my heart even in those early days. I may be biased but he was and is a pretty handsome guy with a killer head of hair. He spoiled me with attention (poor dudes who had to follow that). He held my hand, but also knew when to let it go. In a crowded room his eyes could always make me feel at home. Like most great loves, friendship should be the anchor, and we were buddies from the beginning. We talked about sports, life, work, golf (because that’s his thing), boys, and even feelings (because that’s always been my thing, poor guy). I don’t think he just loved me, I think he really liked me (mostly, at least).
The lessons I learned from him came from being in his presence and witnessing his existence. He watched me grow from a girl to a woman, gently encouraging me through it all. He bit his tongue, like only he can do, more times than he probably will ever admit, and that was noted too. This man listened (or pretended to-EVEN when I made no sense- which is a regular occurence). Through his example he taught me about how women should be treated and what it feels like to be unconditionally loved. He wiped away tears of heartbreak and heartache, always reminding me that it was their loss, not mine. He showed me perseverance by working through the hard stuff, not giving up on me or others. He made me feel beautiful, like all women should, not only from an outward appearance but because he respected my thoughts and feelings. I witnessed what it means to be fiercely loyal, out of no benefit to yourself, but instead because of WHO you are. Some people like to say that they found their own voice, but I’m not ashamed to say that he not only gave me a voice, but he taught me (and the other loves that followed) how to use them. He supported my dreams yet kept the door unlocked in case I fell (smart one, he is). With that, he gave me safety, and although I could take care of myself, every girl wants to feel protected.
Having had friends and family that have recently lost their first loves it breaks my heart because men today are lambasted, and bad men should be, but there are good men among us. REALLY GOOD MEN. Men who are raising women. My first love, my dad, has raised three (well at least the other two are- ha) strong, smart, opinionated, talented, fearless, limitless and sassy women. Women who not only believe that they can do ANYTHING but we do it. Women who love well, because someone showed them how to love. Ladies who aren’t afraid of the world because they know what to look for. He raised women who know what a good man looks like. We believe in good men and love good men, because we lived with one.
That eagle swooped down with his broad span and powerful talons and I saw visions of my dad. I heard more of the song, …“My Refuge, My Rock in Whom I trust.” I smiled, and my eyes brimmed with tears. He raised us, let us shine, holding his palm open in case we needed to put our hand back in it. Just like another Father I know, he will always hold us in the palm of HIS hand.
...and I thanked God for my first love.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91 2