To my Daughter on her 20th Birthday

When my daughter learned to walk, she loved to wear colourful boots and carry a small purse at her wrist. Her boots, however, could never touch mud or snow. That would deface them and detract from the colour.

An early “screamer,” a sometimes crier, but no tears. She’s given to us, we discover, without tear glands.

A childhood with bouts of pain, and pain still. It seems she never quite reaches the full bloom of health.

And yet, inspite of, or because of, who knows, she grows and continues to grow a beautiful soul, a serene and buoyant spirit and the heart of a healer-poet.

Brighter than the sum of her genetic benefactors…this shows up in her curiosity of things biological, philosophical and literary.

And while it occasionally leaves her exhausted, she’s carried by a thirsty and generative energy.

But sometimes, moods can strike her, melancholies, poignancies, a kind of weltschmerz, and she becomes too introspective.

And too, she can be overly desirous of not disappointing.

There’s a part of her she keeps hidden, where she tends to a delicate flame. A flame she needs to guard. It’s this that I’ve seen burning deep in her eyes.

Through it all she learns to be a hater of injustice, a lover of compassion and kindness and equality. And she also becomes a card caring Green-peacer, a sign of her love of the earth and of growing things.

And now, for a summer “job,” she has given herself to a family, but specifically to a 30 year old woman who, from birth, due to a lack of oxygen, is without use of limb, speech, continency–a bent misshapen body, weighing only 70 pounds. But, I’m told, a beautiful face and eyes, harbouring an unseen intelligence.

Between the woman’s episodes of epilepsy, my daughter changes, bathes, reads to, sings to, and takes her for walks. She grows stronger by carrying her.



Teryl, a willow, supple, flexible, exposed; and beneath ground, so much going on. Part clown, part mystic.


  1. Happy Birthday Teryl from Connie and Jeff

    I guess you must be a chip off the old blocks – prettier than Steve (although he’s so hot right now) and a reflection of your mother’s beauty (perhaps just a little less hatchety).

    May your 21st year be one of bountiful, healthful, youthful exuberance!

  2. Haha!! I remeber those boots!! 20 eh?? seems like only last year she was a meer teenager… (i think i make that joke everytime someone turns 20..)
    Hmm.. wish i could write something so poignant.. (cheap comedy seems to be more my forte..) Well done Dad.. But Im still the favorite right???

  3. Jeff, Do I detect an inference to something negative within my daughter’s mother?!

    Happy, happy year Teryl!

    Mike, good to hear from our favorite oldest son!

  4. Sounds like your daughter is doing God’s work.

    I couldn’t be more pleased that she has chosen to know Him in the shape of a bent mishapen body.

    May God bless Teryl and her family real good.

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