A Letter to My Daughter

Note: My daughter Moira left for college on Thursday. She will be attending a major arts college in the midwest. This first appeared in the Life, Under Construction newsletter on August 17.

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Dear Moira,

We are standing at the shore preparing to see you sail on your great adventure. We have prepared you as well as we can.

We have given you a moral compass to guide you. We have given you the light of learning to help you see your way. We have given you a name with pride and confidence. And we allowed you to nourish your talents so you can create your own future. Most important, we gave you our love which continues to grow as you grow.

I have been both looking forward to this day and dreading its arrival. My little girl has now grown enough to leave the nest. I’m looking forward to seeing how you continue to grow in college. And beyond college. To see the woman that you will be, the worlds you will explore, and the life that you will create for yourself.

It also means that I won’t be right there when it happens. Instead, like a scout who blazes the trail, your journey is on your own with your support lagging behind awaiting reports of what you have found.

I will miss having you as my regular companion on adventures large and small. We were a team, whether running errands together in the community or going on a grand trip to Cincinnati with your choir. We attended Girl Scout camp together and you put up with my misery because you were with Dad. We went to Irish dance classes together, and I put up with the cult-like parents because how many children have activities which take place in an Irish bar? And how many hours did we endure together at choir rehearsals and dance rehearsals, all for payoff of a short time on the stage?

But you are also the one who gets the joke. What was the song about that your choir was singing when you were in 8th grade? Turns out it was death, actually. And we would laugh even if your teacher didn’t find it funny. (I bet she still doesn’t get it.)

And now I find myself proud of the daughter your mother and I have raised. “If” Kipling had such a daughter, he would have had to alter his poem. You, who have seen the world, travelled to the antipodes and back, to the cold of Alaska and to the tropics of the Caribbean, to the streets of Paris and the sands of Hawaii, and everywhere left your mark so that so many wish you well. You, who leads your peers, from behind when necessary, but always by example. You, who embraces the arts and education to complete the person. You, with the skeptical mind but the open heart.

“Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,” my daughter, and you will achieve greatness.

No pressure.

Love, your dad.

P.S. You can still call me with homework questions.

James Wigderson, August 17, 2023

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