“Stop telling people to picture me with a beard,” she says to me as we leave the bank.
“I’m sorry,” I say. I give her my sheepish smile. She doesn’t look at me. She’s annoyed.
The guy at the bank knew her father, remembers what he looked like. When I mention the beard he nods emphatically – he recognizes the resemblance without my graphic reminder. Deep, dark-chocolate eyes under a broad forehead; arms that can reach anywhere; a stride the rest of us have to jog to keep up with.
There are other traits. I joke about her being tight fisted (other mothers cluck and correct me: she is prudent). I feel undeserved pride in her studiousness. I acknowledge as mine her being thoughtful and quiet; a woman of few words, but he was even more introspective, reticent and frugal of utterance.
My athletic ability. His posture. My sarcasm (okay, this may well be learned rather than inherited). His unexpected fragility.
I marvel at many of these (and cringe at the one), but what most astonishes me as I gaze upon my daughter, watching for her father, is their grace. Not in the long-legged, short-trunked loping gait she now uses, an exact replica of the way her father used to cross the very same stretch of empty pavement. Not in the take-no-prisoners stance she adopts when the meal is over and the dishes are perched in the sink, waiting for her to slowly, thoroughly, dispense with them. She shares with him a way of softening her face, loosening her body language and mellowing her voice when another person, friend or foe, stranger or family, allows her a glimpse of their pain. The strange, almost mystical dignity that I thought corresponded only to him, and so had lost, is finding its way back into the world, on the shoulders of his daughter. My daughter. Our daughter.
“I’m really tired of it,” she says two blocks later.
I shrug, keep walking. She takes my hand.
b : a pleasing appearance or effect : charm
grace of youth — John Buchan> c : ease and suppleness of movement or bearing