Twenty one years ago today, something went incredibly right

imageTwenty-one years ago today it was Friday the 13th. The reason I know this isn’t because I’m a savant, but because it was the day my oldest daughter was born — and everything seemed to be going wrong. The monitors were glitching, causing her vitals to disappear and the nurses’ faces to tighten into a fixed expression of forced calm. When I asked if things were ok, I was met with tight-lipped smiles of reassurance that made my stomach queasy. She wasn’t positioned right, with one arm extended above her head, as if caught in the middle of a backstroke swimming out of the womb. Eventually, her clavicle had to be broken in order to deliver her into the world.

When I held her for the first time and watched her tiny fingers wrapped around mine, I looked into her big brown eyes and saw an old soul looking back at me. It was a look that said, “I’ll make this as easy as I can for you, and I’ll forgive you when you screw up. Because we both know you will from time to time.” 

In the 21 years that have passed, my daughter has made everything go nothing but right. She spoiled me with her easiness. Always calm, observant and mature, she was accompanying me on out-of-town sports assignments when she was six. I marveled at her ability to feel at home anywhere, in any surrounding, connecting with people because of her genuine interest in them. One of the most important realizations we make in life is that the world doesn’t revolve around us — but that we revolve around the world. Some people never gain that perspective and, naturally, they go into politics. But for whatever reason, my daughter gained this perspective early and shared it often.


When my ex-wife revealed on my 40th birthday she was leaving me, though we had been unhappy for many years it still caught me off guard, in the same way you know skiing is essentially about slipping but somehow are still surprised when you fall on your ass. In those first few weeks as I began piecing things together as a single dad with two young children at home, it was my daughter, 11 then, who would curl up on the couch with me, place a hand on my head and ask if I was alright.

In those moments, she was a reminder of how the world doesn’t revolve around us, but that we revolve around the world — And how having children at the center of your universe creates its own gravity.

Today, I celebrate 21 years of watching my daughter revolve around this world with seeming effortlessness, unaffected by the moon or tides, from sunrise to sunset taking each day with her own special grace. I couldn’t be more proud of the woman she has become or the effect she has on those within her universe.


And I will always be thankful for that Friday, 21 years ago, when despite how everything seemed to be going wrong, one thing went incredibly right…



Happy Birthday, my Leesie

— Love Dad








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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

76 thoughts on “Twenty one years ago today, something went incredibly right”

    1. Thank you, Susan. At least there are no projectile raspberries involved this time 😉 And yeah, the hair… and how skinny I was! I weighed 130 pounds until I turned 30, then… well, you saw what happened… Lol! I told my daughter I want to do a re-enactment of the first photo.

  1. Congratulations, proud Dad. I have a tear. You have reminded me of what my Dad said at my 21st birthday. So the tears are for two dads and two daughters. Thank you for that, Ned. Best to you both.

  2. She has your smile. Congratulations on gaining your 21sr birthday, Leesie and well done Ned for being the dad Leesie needs. What a great team you makw.

  3. Awww. This brought a tear to my eye. What a beautiful post about a fathers love for his daughter. Lovely pictures, too!

    Wishing your daughter a happy birthday 🙂

    21, eh? How time flies!

  4. That is the *sniff* sweetest *sniff sniff* tribute to your little girl. You are very blessed to have such an awesome young lady for a daughter.
    Isn’t it amazing how fast they grow up??? I remember thinking mine would never talk and I used to wish her to use words. My husband would say “NO, don’t say that!! Because she will never shut up!” Guess what! He was right! LOL! That was 28 years ago.. *sigh* but feels like 2 months ago. 😦

    1. It truly is amazing how quickly they grow. I know it’s cliche’, but it’s the truth. The amazing thing is how she turned 21 while I’m still in my 30s *cough cough*

      1. Uhm… ha ha! Ok! So you are one of those who started counting backwards at 40 also, huh?? ME TOO! LOL! 😉
        I’m only 28 now! Which is interesting since that is the same age as my daughter ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! 😀

  5. What a beautiful piece, written in honour of your daughter’s 21st birthday. Wishing you both many more years together celebrating the deep bond you share, creating so many more wonderful memories together.

  6. That’s beautiful Ned. It’s amazing how much children can change your world. They require patience and self-sacrifice, and after the birth of your children your life ceases to be “your own” in the same way. But at the same time they provide a sense of fulfillment.

    I love watching my children grow, and mature, and knowing that for good or for bad, of all the things I influence in my life they will be the most important.

  7. We’re never the same, we men, when a daughter’s brought into this world, Ned. And you’re all the better for it. Beautiful tribute – and this is my favorite line:

    … having children at the center of your universe creates its own gravity.

  8. Beautiful, Ned (both the post and your daughter). They grow up way too quickly. My youngest is 26 and just signed a contract for her first home. I still think of her as my baby, and I’m having a little trouble dealing with it.

      1. It is exciting, and I’m happy for her. I suspect, however, that mom is going to have to help with some of the closing costs. Guess mom’s not going to be getting her own new house any time soon.

  9. Happy Birthday to your daughter. With the love of Dad like that, she is as blessed as you are to have her in your life my friend.
    Respect to you Ned for being a great Father and a man with integrity.

  10. Oh M G! This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. It brought me to tears and I started to cry~happy tears though. You are an incredible man Ned. I ❤️You🙌🏼 (and Alicia too💋)

  11. “I marveled at her ability to feel at home anywhere, in any surrounding, connecting with people because of her genuine interest in them. One of the most important realizations we make in life is that the world doesn’t revolve around us — but that we revolve around the world.”

    Oh Ned….some people don’t figure this out after eighty years of living. To know your daughter realized it before all of her baby teeth fell out is a huge testatment to her, to you, and the love you share.
    What a beautiful and amazing story about a young woman I’d be honored to meet, call a friend, or claim as a daughter. Happy Birthday to you, too Daddy! xo

  12. A beautiful piece for a beautiful soul. The world needs more of her, so we should all celebrate the day she arrived!

  13. Different month, different year (obviously), and I was born on a Tuesday (though I did turn 13 on Friday the 13th), but I’ve always considered 13 to be a lucky number. A great number for you and your sweet daughter, obviously. Great tribute to her, Ned. And to you, for what you’ve made her into, and for what she’s made you into.

  14. Beautiful, Ned. They truly do change your entire world and perspective. Nothing and no one can make us want to move mountains, or make the person who hurts them disappear, more than they do.

    And, since I realized that might’ve sounded a bit negative toward the end, let me add that a parent’s unconditional love opens the door to all the wonder our children can become.

No one is watching, I swear...

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