††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Thoughts Through a Lifetime

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† lynn "Lynnie" Bango

††††††††††† He never thought about his past anymore. At least he tried not to. Right now-- right now he had no choice. His first child would be born in just a few minutes. Alex was in there right now and there was no other option in his mind. The last thing he should be thinking about was the pain of his past.

††††††† What if his child goes through the same thing as him? Would it be his fault? Yes, in his mind it would be. He lost his parents because of race. He was part of both of them and he had to fight because of it his entire life. Uncle Ray taught him there are two sides to a person and his child would be taught the same. He looked at the white rose in his hand and realized this was going to be a new beginning. Starting off pure.

††††††† His thoughts were interrupted by a tap on his shoulder. "Excuse me, Ranger?" the older woman asked. "Would you like to see your wife and new baby girl?" the woman questioned as the man stood up.

††††††† "Of course! Are they okay? Everything's alright? No problems?"

††††††† "No problems. They're both doing fine. Follow me."

††††††† The new father followed the nurse through the doors to his, now larger, family. She opened the door and let the Ranger in. "Thank you," he told her. She grinned at the proud man and shut the door.

††††††† Alex smiled at her husband and told him, "She has the startings of your hair."

††††††† Walking over to his wife, he gave her a tender kiss and handed her the rose. He knew the white ones were her favorite. He took the child into his arms and looked down at her. "Your Uncle Jimmy and Grandpa C.D. are going to be very happy when they see you. Alex, she has your eyes. She's beautiful."

††††††† He looked at his wife and new daughter and finally understood something. Family. This was what his father had died for. He made a promise that would last his whole life. He vowed he would die for the same thing if he had to.

††††††† As soon as the baby was brought home, the tough Ranger started to soften. He was buying diapers and toys and calling a million times a day to make sure everything was alright. Some said he was being too protective, but he didn't view it that way. He saw it as watching out for his family.

††††††† The no nonsense law officer started to have tea parties with his red haired little girl. They would play house and have picnics with stuffed friends. The two of them would go riding all day long and play hopscotch on the porch. Everyone laughed, but he saw it as being a good father.

††††††† When she started to date, every boy would get a thousand questions asked to them. He made sure she knew what to do if something happened. Alex couldn't believe this man. She kept asking, "What if my dad did this to you?"

††††††† He would answer, "I'd answer the questions. I'm trying to keep her safe."††

††††††† He was so proud when she chose to go to medical school. She told him she wanted to practice on the reservation. "I want to work with the people you grew up with." On the day he gave her away, the hard-as-nails Ranger cried. Alex was not able to see her blue eyed daughter marry, but she was there in spirit. Their child left a seat empty where her mother would have sat.

††††††† At his funeral she lit a white candle. She stared at the flame of yellow, red, and the flicker of blue. Each held pictures of past moments.

††††††† In the yellow, she saw all the lessons he taught to her. Some she still was learning to understand. How to ride a bike when she was little, karate when he felt she was ready, and to ride a horse for as long as she could remember.† Horses had quickly become a favorite past time. He taught her to treat everyone equally and not by the color of skin one had. Everyone deserves respect. Most importantly, the lesson where he always told her she could be whatever she wants to be.

††††††† In the bouncing orange, there were the memories of times they spent together. Birthday parties with presents. He always made sure they were fun. The times when he and her mom would take her to her Grandpa C.D.ís bar. Where Uncle Jimmy and her dad would teach her to play darts.† It was, and still is, a place of comfort. All the days when she would go to the station and sit there after school to do her homework. All their trips to the reservation. Special times that were only for her and dad. She saw how he cried when his beloved Alex died. That was the hardest thing she had ever seen him go through. Never again would he have to mourn for her. For that, his daughter was grateful.

††††††† In the flickering blue, the young woman saw the times she never experienced. The things that her father went through with Uncle Ray and Aunt Ruth that were told to her time and again. The tales of growing up on a Cherokee reservation. He never told her of the painful things. The night he lost his parents. Her grandparents. She was forced to ask her mother for that information and after being told, understood why he never told her. She would only know the stories and customs of her grandparents.

††††††† Her husband came up and put his arms around her. "You okay?"

††††††† "No, but I will be. I miss him already."

††††††† "I know that. You've barely slept and that isn't healthy for you or the baby,"† the dark haired man told his wife.

††††††† "I'll just be a minute."

††††††† "Alright."

††††††† She turned to the casket again and closed her eyes. "I love you, Dad. I want you to know something. Tommy and I met on that reservation and I will never regret that. Our children will know of their ancestors and where they came from. Just like you taught me. They'll know what you went through." She bent down and kissed the smooth surface after laying a single white rose on the top.

††††††† Outside, there were small drops of raining falling. "I'll bring the car to you, Katie."

††††††† "No, I'm okay."

††††††† "You sure?"

††††††† "Yeah. It's refreshing, you know? Dad always said it meant loved ones were with you."

††††††† Her husband kissed her gently and said, "Okay, we can walk together." As they walked to their car, she looked up and smiled.

††††††† Up in Heaven, a father still watched over his daughter.