My Not So Little Girl

"Ra Ra-ah-ah-ah. Roma Roma-ma. GaGa. Oh la-la", I sang or semi-mumbled with the radio while I drove my 15 year old daughter to school on a cold Wisconsin morning.

"Dad! Please don't ruin Lady Gaga for me!!", was my daughter's protest. "I actually like Lady Gaga."

"So do I", I said as I stopped singing the lyrics I knew by heart.

I disturb my daughter at times. She was still reeling perhaps from my admission that I like hip hop a few weeks ago. She seems a bit disturbed as well when I announce "that's my boy JT playing on the radio", referring to Justin Timberlake. I'd already admitted a decade earlier that I liked N'Synch so it really shouldn't be surprising. What's not to like about JT? He's talented. He writes great lyrics and sings well. He's funny. He's good to his mother. Maybe 46 year old male isn't the fan JT is after but it isn't like I have his posters up or would want to go to a concert. I just like his music. So do a lot of current artists it seems as he's a contributor with EVERYBODY these days.

I have a knack of absorbing lyrics. I love artists like John Lennon or Bono or Ben Gibbard who really excel in their crafts at writing. I'm a fan of John Mayer as well but less so when he seemed like an ass when I followed him on Twitter. Yeah, I followed John Mayer on Twitter. For a short while. Don't look at me like that?!?! I have a respect for a variety of talent. Not just the people who fit my demographics either. Lady Gaga seems very odd to me - because she is odd - but what a talent. I respect an artist that puts themselves out there and takes some risks, even when some don't pan out - like when she dressed up looking like a slim jim. That might have been a mistake, but fearless!

I'd think my daughter would think it is cool that her dad is up to date on many of today's artists. I have a Yahoo! listgroup called Guster City that has been up since I first heard them in 2003. My son, now 26, had gotten me to listen to them and after a concert I was a big fan. I'm even linked by the Guster.com webpage and had some discussions with The ThunderGod himself on my listgroup. He also played for me Death Cab For Cutie which has become one of my favorite "college" bands. None of that seems to give me cool cache with the daughter though.

"Y'know", I said, "I like these songs and when I feel good and the lyrics are in my head anyway I'm probably going to sing them out... badly granted... but .."

Luckily for my daughter, we arrived at the school and that moment ended. I felt like she walked away slightly embarrassed as she shut the door. It's so fine. She's 15. And she does have an odd dad. It all works out.

Lady Gaga - Just Dance

Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You Into The Dark

Guster - Barrel Of A Gun

John Lennon - Stand By Me

I realize, that at her age, even if she thinks dad is cool - she can't admit it. It breaks some kind of teen code. I don't think she thinks dad is cool though, just dad. At 15 my dad was already dead. I try not to hold it against her that she doesn't do cartwheels for my very existence but that is my mentality with her sometimes. My dad liked jazz and Peggy Lee, that is about all I know about that.

It doesn't matter. I'm just so happy my girl can roll her eyes at me as she goes off to high school. Thirteen years ago, I wouldn't dare dream that this is how it would be now, for fear of upsetting the jinx gods. My daughter was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 1997, when she was 2. She is 100 percent cancer free today.

I can still flashback to that morning at my desk when my wife called. Something just didn't seem right. My daughter had been having issues going to the bathroom. She would squat and struggle as she pooped in her diaper. She seemed to have hurt herself somehow. She bruised really easy. The fear was she had some kind of bone infection but the reality was worse than the fear. My wife didn't like something about the way the nurse said "Mrs. Beadle you need to bring your daughter to the UW Hospital immediately". And I didn't like something about it either, when my wife relayed the message. When I came back to my office several days later my phone was still off the hook. I had just left the office and rushed home after my wife had relayed that nurse's words to me, I guess. I don't really remember now.

What ensued was a surgery and two and a half years of hell. A Hickman was inserted that helped reduced some of the "pokes" she would get but the hell my daughter had to go through seems surreal now. I'm not even sure how we lived through it anymore. You just had no choice. We'd have done worse to her to save her life. Not that all the medicines, the horrible tasting medicines we tried to cover up with Hersey syrup (which she hates now), wasn't enough. Or the monthly spinal taps she was drugged for but technically awake for. All the sick days she had. The loss of her beautiful curls and the new bald look we got used to. The fear of fevers or chicken pox. A horrible thing to put a child through. Maybe a more horrible thing to put a parent through. Something thousands of kids face each and every day. Luckily, my daughter was 4 when treatment ended and she has very few memories of those times. I'd hate to have her remember when her daddy held her hands over her head while she growled because mommy was putting foul tasting things down her throat. Worse than that maybe is when we broke her a month or so later and she'd open her mouth and just take it, knowing resistance was futile.

My daughter proved what a warrior she was. She liked going to the hospital actually to see the doctors and nurses. Even the week long stays we had to do in the hospital when she had a high fever. She loved the play room or to sit with her daddy up on the top floor where the helicopters would come and go. She'd let people poke and prod and torture her without much complaint and in return she got stickers. And she was thankful. She would actually say "thank-you" sometimes after someone prodded her. She smiled by far more than she cried and she never complained. To her, she was just living a normal life. She taught us so much about courage and how to face tragic times optimistically. It was a hard two and a half years but I wouldn't take them away from my memory. We had so many good times inbetween the bad. We grew together as a family. My son and I became closer than I dare say we would've had she not been sick. And with my dad dying on me so young that means a lot. My son and I are very close now. I'd have given anything to have known my dad when I was a man. When I told him that his little sister was seriously sick we just cried and hugged for probably fifteen minutes. To this day that is the closest moment I've shared with another human being.

It seems like forever ago sometimes and at times like these it just seems like yesterday. I have to go get her now. She's too lazy to walk in the snow!! "It's too cold!". The lil whiner! It's good. My girl can complain some. To make up for all that abuse she never complained about. It's a nice normal, where your 15 year old pleads for a ride from her daddy because it is cold out. She doesn't even know today is her anniversary probably. Good. It's enough that we know. I might even not sing along with whatever song comes on the radio, espeically if she likes the song that is playing. I'd hate to ruin another one for her!

"Ra Ra-ah-ah-ah. Roma Roma-ma. GaGa. Oh la-la"

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Comments 7 comments

bballbeadle 6 years ago

Very gut wrenching. I like how you start with the "normal" and then move to the "very bad dreadfully abnormal." Then back to "norbal." All parents of teens reading your story would probably go hug the child who is currently driving them crazy. Hey, maybe you'll save a few family break ups!

Good story, John. From the guts.


Happy Rasta 6 years ago

I like Lady Gaga too, and I'm 3 years older than you. I made the mistake of telling that to my 16-year-old son last week, though - and he's still not talking to me.

More importantly, I am in awe of your strength and fortitude when you went through the horror of your daughter's illness - I'm sure that it helped her (and your wife) come through it. I don't know how I would have reacted to it if that had happed to my boy when he was little - I can only hope I would have risen to the occasion like you did.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Wow what an experience. You know what they say "Whatever doesn't kill you...." When my boy was two he chased our cat through the house with comet to dust her for fleas. Green powder everywhere. After complaining about a hurt thumb, we found a little fire burning where he'd gotten a velvet stool to plug in a cup water boiler... Two's are scary but yours brushed the side of angels and came back. Thanks for sharing. Ra Ra Pa Pa


CynthiaF61 profile image

CynthiaF61 6 years ago from Tennessee

Thanks for sharing you experience! My 16 year old is the Lady Gaga fan in this house and she's also the one with the rolling eyes and heaving sighs. Your story has helped me this morning to be thankful that, though she can be a challenge, she has her health and I do love her deeply.

Thanks, again!


JBeadle profile image

JBeadle 6 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks so much for that comment CynthiaF61. That my story could relate to your life and your feelings for your daughter really means a lot to me. That was one of the most meaningful compliments I've gotten so far I think.


Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 6 years ago from The East Coast

You are a cool dad JB, the normal days are a gift.


JBeadle profile image

JBeadle 6 years ago from Midwest Author

Thanks for the compliment Flightkeeper as well as the read and comment.

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