I remember the night my father brought home a kite for me. It was only about three feet high when assembled, but it seemed gigantic to me. It was pale blue with little white racing stripes running across it. Dad and I put it together that night, being careful with the thin boards used for support and using old strips of rags for a tail. The finished kite was beautiful. I tenderly placed it under my bed and went to sleep in happy anticipation of seeing it fly.
The next day my excitement grew, but it was dulled when Dad came home tired from work and said it was too windy for kite flying. I almost felt I was going to be sick to my stomach, and my face clouded up. “But, Dad, it’s not too windy.”
“It will tear the kite, Linda.”
“Dad—you said we could and I want to!” My protest was characterized by the squeaks, loss of voice, and gulps I develop when I get nervous or upset.
“Okay, Lin,” he said. “We’ll try it.”
The wind was strong and it took lots of work to get the kite flying. But Dad ran with it and after it was dashed to the ground a few times, the wind caught the kite and it went sailing. It was a wonderful sight, with the wind cracking the paper and the tail coiling like a snake.
Dad had his arms around me, his big calloused hands over my little ones helping me hold on to the ball of string that we had wound around a piece of wood. We slowly let the kite pull out more string—it went higher and higher. Even the string was beautiful as it danced with the wind.
We both just stood there, Dad’s arms around me, holding on to the little piece of wood and watching the kite sway back and forth.
“Here, Linda, why don’t you try flying it alone,” Dad said after a while.
“No, I don’t want to.” I liked Dad’s strong arms around me while I quietly watched the kite. But he let go, and without his help I was pulled forward a few feet. I tried to hold on to the stick, but it kept turning around in my hands as the string force fully unwound. Dad tried to stop it, but the last inch of string came whipping off the wood.
“Dad, I really tried to hold on!” My face must have clouded, and my voice cracked. Dad saw I was upset and quickly took off running after the string.
In Colorado we have big open flat fields covered with sagebrush and little gullies. The dirt is loose and sandy, and in my mind’s eye I can still see the dust rising as Dad ran after that kite. He ran like a track star with his body moving along evenly, lifting his feet up high and then thrusting them out and down.
Dad was panting hard by the time he caught it. He had wrapped the string around the little piece of wood and was holding tight to the captured kite when he returned.
Then he saw the tears in my eyes. “What’s the matter, Lin? I got it back—don’t cry. It’s okay.” He bent down and put his powerful arms around me and gently pulled my head to his shoulder.
I didn’t tell Dad then, but he would have understood: I did feel bad about letting go, and about Dad having to chase the kite across the fields. But that wasn’t why I was crying. I had just seen how much my father cared for me—something that would happen again and again over the years.