Anybody who knows me a little bit knows this is my favorite picture. Its my oldest daughter Caitlin, about six months old, trying to walk. She couldn’t quite get the hang of it right then, but trust me, she already knew walking was where it was at. She saw that people who could walk could get places faster, and she was definitely interested in that, even as a tyke. Heck with this crawlin’ shit! I’m gonna walk!
Wasn’t too long after this she indeed was walking, and very soon thereafter, running. She has pretty much lived her life (she’s 23 now) with the pedal to the metal.
Much to her old man’s consternation. She has had, well, a tumultuous early life, let’s put it that way. She pushed the envelope, her’s and mine, and we have had some tough, angry times. But its not all on her. (Never is, right?) I’ve been a here and there dad, being a roving photog. We used to use the term “magic daddy” sometimes when she was small. She would go to bed and I’d be there, and wake up, and I’d be gone. Or vice versa. Sometimes when I would be home, I really wasn’t. Tired or distracted, we’d snuggle for a bedtime story, and once, I just said, “You know, sweetie, dad’s so tired tonight I don’t think I can get through even one story.”
She reached over a tiny hand (she was about two) and patted me on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry daddy, just do the best you can.”
I put alot on her, of course. Between being gone, and also kind of making her my daughter and my son. Got her scuba certified when she was 12. Took her on her first night dive three dives after her cert. Trust me, when the ocean gets inky black, it can freak even some experienced divers. She was unfazed, and fascinated.
She rode a horse like a bat outta hell. Coming back from camp, she allowed that she had won the competition where you stand on the horse’s back, barefoot, holding the reins. I didn’t really want to know. She once broke her arm snowboarding, and sawed off the cast after about a week cause it was “bothering her.”
She kind of just knows. She can sit at the tiller of a boat and know how to drive it. I let her drive my pickup on the NY State Thruway and points everywhere when she was 15. (Yes, its true. I’ll never be the cover subject of Parenting magazine.) I put both her and her sister Claire on a dog sled years ago for a joyride and Claire got seriously cold. Caity opened her jacket, untucked her shirt, took Claire’s boots off and stuck her sister’s feet next to her skin, and then just folded herself on top of Claire. She just knows.
She’s a pretty good grip. She can handle a c-stand and ratio a pack. She’s been to the Eddie Adams Workshop at least seven times. But she has no interest in photography. She kind of grew up in a photo hothouse. Her mom is the DOP of the New York Times. Her dad is, well, her dad. She has chosen a different path. Can’t say as I blame her.
But she’s a tough kid. Cool under pressure. She’d be good to have in the foxhole with you when the chips are down.
Two days before Turkey Day, she was leaving her boyfriend Ryan’s house early in the morning, and she hit black ice. Her car slid right off the roadside where there should be a guardrail and plunged down a 40′ ravine, rolling over twice. It came to rest upside down. Caity was left hanging in her seatbelt, also upside down, and covered in blood. She was lucky to still be conscious. There is no sight line from the road to the ravine, and no one saw her go over. She could have easily bled to death at the bottom.
She unbuckled her belt. And was collected enough to grab the oh shit handle above the passenger door and with both feet, bust out the passenger window. She clambered back up to road, still spilling blood everywhere. She doesn’t remember walking back to Ryan’s house.
At the hospital, she got 3 stitches in her hand. All her cranial wounds were left to close on their own. Cat scans were negative. She was stiff and sore, but told me she was thinking of going to work that day. Wiser heads prevailed.
As I told her tonight, maybe the best genetic gift I gave her was a hard head. I’m very thankful for that.