Everything changed when I was 11.
When I was 11, I had a whiny, southern twang that was much more annoying than the whiny, southern twang that I am blessed with today.
When I was 11, I was short and round, sans a waistline. I had unruly hair and thick bangs that were in the shape of a large barreled curling iron.
When I was 11, I was going through a terribly awkward and ugly phase, and I watched the popular pretty girls whisper and snicker as I walked past them in the middle school hall.
When I was 11, I was sure that I'd be loud and annoying and ugly and awkward for the rest of my life.
When I was 11, my awkward bangs and chubby face were the last thing that my father saw. My whiny, southern twangy voice was the last that thing that my father heard.
Years after my father passed away, I began to wish he was here to see the person that I was becoming.
I wish he was here to see the awkwardness fade and the weight fall off and my height increase by 12 to 14 inches when I was 13.
I wish he was here to see that those stupid bangs grew, and I traded the curling iron for a straightening iron.
I wish he was here to know that I eventually killed the pretty, mean bullies with kindness and then may or may not have stolen their boyfriends.
I wish he was here to know that I finally got the hang of the piano and I stuck with that writing hobby that I loved so much as a child.
I wish he was here so that he could hear that my voice lost some of its pitchiness and some of its whiny twang.
I wish he was here to see that I fell in love with a good kid that reminds me quite a bit of him — tall and skinny with a love of shooting pool, singing Bob Seger and trying to water ski while barefoot.
I wish he were here to see these beautiful children that I bore and named after him.
If my dad were alive, we'd do awesome things. He was hilarious, creative and talented. I’m pretty sure we'd do something epic and probably be the most famous father-daughter duo since Billy Ray and Miley.
And for the record, my father never had a mullet, and although he had a heart attack, it wasn't due to anything being achy or breaky. Also, I'm way cooler than Hannah Montana.
I wish this face now (without the extra weight and the stupid bangs) and this voice now (without the whiny discontentment) were the last things he saw and heard. Not that embarassing kid 20 years ago. I wish the present me was the way he saw me before he took his last breath.
I've thought this way for years. If only he could see me now. He'd be proud.
I'm sure he must've worried back then that I'd always be a loser — the subject of ridicule, with my round body and round hair.
And tonight I had a thought for the very first time in 20 years.
It was a thought that I couldn't have possibly have had until I had my own children.
My daughter is 6. When she looks back at her 1st grade school photo, she will probably grimace at the missing teeth, the baby curls that frame her face, her chubby cheeks.
And when I look back at her 1st grade photo, I will think her smile is precious; her curls are beautiful, and her gorgeous face will take my breath away.
On my father's last day on this earth, as that fat little girl hovered over him, with her fluffy, unruly hair and her annoying voice, he didn't see a disappointment. He saw his daughter.
His perfect daughter.
And he was proud.
This article was originally published at Whoa! Susannah. Reprinted with permission from the author.