Bearing the Love

Whitney - Conway, Arkansas
Entered on September 12, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, love

I believe our parents try to protect us from all the danger they can, even (or especially) the ones we can’t see.

When I was around seven, I went on my first father daughter camping trip. The Girl Scouts were hosting the trip at a lush green camp ground named Camp Cahinnio. I was excited about the trip when we started, but my enthusiasm soon went down hill. We played the little father daughter games, yet I somehow felt slightly removed from the group. My dad wasn’t very comfortable around big crowds, and his timidness seemed to be pulling me away like a leaf caught in a current. I was already feeling slightly anxious about my stay at the camp; I’m glad I had no idea what was to come. I at least got to enjoy that day.

That night, we slept in tents with tan canvas tops on hard wooden platforms. The unsuspecting girls were sleeping at the opposite end of the camp grounds than our fathers, so we didn’t hear the shout. We completely missed the image of my huge, muscular, ex-boxer father punching the thick, empty night air.

A few tries from the other fathers to contain his random punches before he hurt someone, and my dad finally woke from his sleep-fight. It turned out he was having a dream about a giant grizzly bear attacking the girls, and he was fighting with the imagined animal to protect the girl’s tents.

I’m sure if it was possible for my deep olive skin to blush, it would have been red as an apple when I found out the next day. I was actually embarrassed. I was mortified that my father had boxed the empty air in front of everyone.

It’s unfortunate that children sometimes miss the gravity of what their parents do for them; all they’re focused on is their embarrassment. Fortunately, when they are older, those same children are given a chance to understand the depth of love they received.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized in my father’s mind he leapt in front of a giant, dangerous, threatening grizzly bear. He would box a bear with his bare hands to keep me safe. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.