To my daughter on her graduation
My first child, Emily Elisabeth Martin, graduates from Saline (Mich.) High School this weekend. I offer this open letter to her.Dearest Emily, Congratulations on your successful completion of high school. Your mother and I are very proud of you and this achievement. Your mother also deserves a significant compliment for raising you (and your sisters) as a single parent — well done, Beth.I vividly remember your September 1993, birth at St. Elisabeth Krankenhaus in the small town of Bad Kissingen, Germany. It was Sunday afternoon in Germany, morning back home in the States. I remember hurriedly converting your birth weight and measurements from metric to English so that the numbers meant something to your grandparents when I called them. Grandma came to stay with us to help for several weeks after we got you home.We tried to surprise everyone with a visit home over Christmas, but an unanticipated fuel stop in Newfoundland, Canada, made us miss our connecting flight from New York to Detroit. We got to Detroit about six hours later than anticipated. The airport was largely empty except for your grandparents. It was an enjoyable first Christmas with you. I went back to Germany shortly after Christmas, but you and your mother stayed for nearly another month. We returned permanently to the United States in mid-1994.We struggled briefly as we made the transition to civilian life, living with my brother for several months. During this stay, you suffered a seizure. We probably broke dozens of traffic laws getting you to the hospital that night. It was painful to see such a light girl with a tiny oxygen mask and an IV (which is probably the contributing factor toward your deathly fear of needles!). Things eventually turned out OK, and we soon moved to Croswell, Mich., for my first government job and your first school years. Your twin sisters were born in 1998.We then moved to Linden, Mich. It was while in Linden that, unfortunately, your mother and I divorced. All of you moved to Saline (and thankfully, a much better school system). I greatly missed you and your sisters, and still do every day.You were very active, playing soccer in the summer, flute in the band, field hockey in the fall and track in the spring. You struggled at times with class work, but always seemed to be giving a good effort. You were proud to earn your varsity letters in field hockey and track. I enjoyed watching you compete.You learned to drive. Boy, do I remember your driving part of the way south to Florida as part of a vacation! I think your sisters remember that, too! We made it down and back and had a good time. I drove the whole way, though, on the subsequent trip to Florida to see a space shuttle launch.My most wonderful memory with you, Emily, is our two-week trip to Europe last summer. It was just you and me, and I wanted to show you things that you couldn’t have remembered from your first nine months. I showed you the hospital, our apartment, and we ate in a downtown Bad Kissingen café. We drove to southern Germany to see a castle and a concentration camp, then north (at over 100 mph) to see the sites of Berlin.We then took an overnight train to Paris. You didn’t like riding the train and trying to sleep for that long. We went to the top of Paris at the Eiffel Tower and the bowels of Paris in the Catacombs. Another train took us to Normandy, where you had more interest in the cute tour guide than the history. A cross-Channel ferry carried us to Portsmouth and another train to London. We saw a show and shopped at Harrod’s. We toured a castle built before 1100 and ate in a pub that opened before Columbus sailed across the ocean. It was, perhaps, the most memorable two weeks of my life, and I got to share it with you: only you, and only our memories.Good luck as you enter the next awesome phase of your life. I will always be here for you. I know that I haven’t been the perfect father (far from it), but I hope that through everything, you have never doubted my love for you. You are a wonderful woman. I look forward to showing you Connecticut soon. I am very proud to have you as my daughter.I love you, Emily.DadDale Martin is the town manager of Winchester.