One of our daughter’s best friends is named Kristy. I call her Wooder (as do many of her friends). She calls me Big D (but no one else does). When Wooder’s parents moved out of the country due to her dad’s job transfer, Wooder moved in with us. The girls had just graduated from high school and were both headed to The University of Wisconsin that fall. Wooder spent part of the summer in Italy with her folks but the rest of the time she lived with us. Weekends home during the school year were spent at our house and she also stayed with us the following summer, too. Holidays she would fly to Italy and on at least one of those trips she took Bess with her.
That first summer I joked that Wooder was the “Daughter I Never Wanted”. Now I realize that nothing could be further from the truth. But that first summer Wooder was a ‘third thumb’, a ‘fifth wheel, a ‘fish out of water’. You get my drift: she didn’t fit in. Our family, my wife, our daughter, our son, and myself all worked – ALL SUMMER. Bess worked as an intern at my office. Blake worked on a seed farm. Deb was a parish secretary. I was a project manager. And Wooder slept in. Some days we would all come home from work in time for Wooder to announce that she would be “taking a shower now”. Her only responsibility was to let our little dog Sadie out to “go potty”. Poor Sadie – good thing she had a strong bladder!
It wasn’t that Wooder was lazy – she just didn’t need to do anything on weekdays. Saturdays were different. We all cleaned the house and did chores. At first I believe that Wooder thought I was dictatorial – GET UP! VACUUM! NOW! My kids were used to this but Wooder probably thought she had been sold into bondage. But we all adapted. I realized that Wooder was very helpful when asked to help (my wife recommended this tactic) and she began to understand that my bombastic approach to household chores was just so much bluster and posturing – no one really took me seriously.
Pretty soon Wooder was part of our family and joined in with dinner table debates. Often she would be my ally when some of our ‘discussions’ got heated in that kitchen on Westfield Road. She agreed with me that the guy that my daughter was dating was all wrong for her – of course we were both wrong about that! (Sorry Travis, I love you! I just didn’t know you then.) She shared family birthdays and cookouts and running errands with us. Once, when it was just Wooder and me, a deer leapt over the hood of the car as we were driving down Cedarburg Road – no one would believe that story today if Wooder hadn’t been there!
Today she is Doctor Wood. She’s a bio-medical something or other. I know she wears a lab coat and works on really important stuff that I’m too dim-witted to understand. I’m proud of Wooder. I’m proud of the person that she’s become. Life hasn’t always been easy. Wooder is gay and not everyone can handle that. Truth be known, it kind of “threw me for a loop” at first but I love Wooder and I’m proud of her. So maybe it’s gay pride that I feel and that’s okay with me. She and her wife Cindy (yes wife – it’s legal in Massachusetts – get with it, rest of the country) are blessings to all who know and love them. And even though Wooder’s the “Daughter I Never Wanted”, I’m glad that she’s a part of our family. And I hope she’ll always know that she has a place in our hearts and our home.