Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Party is in Montana

Lisa Niforopulos is Forty Today
by Charlie Leck [20 June 2007]

My step-daughter, Lisa Niforopulos, turns 40 years of age today. I won't go into how hard that is to believe. You others who have raised children know all about this and you certainly don't need to be reminded. You who have not raised children to adulthood won't have the slightest idea what I am talking about. No matter!

Lisa was a ten year old when I got to know her. Somewhere, somehow, early on, we agreed to some sort of pact to keep our distance and for me not to get too parental and for her not to get too demanding. It was not a comfortable treaty - at least it wasn't for me. I just had to put up with it and I did my best. I've talked in great seriousness with other step-parents who understand this treaty completely.

So, I was not given much opportunity to love Lisa as a parent might. That was part of the treaty - perhaps at the heart of the agreement. It seemed to me that Lisa might interpret such emotion as disloyalty to her own father, but that's only a guess and we needn't go there.

This was not a horrible arrangement. Don't misunderstand me!

Lisa expected me to love her mother completely and to be loyal and gentle in that love. It wasn't spoken or written, but it was clear. Do that and we will have a civil relationship.

Somewhere along the time-line of the last 30 years, I discovered that I loved Lisa a great deal - as a father would love a daughter. It didn't happen early in our relationship, but it is not a new feeling either. It is something that shall never be expressed. She still retains that protective shield and it is wrapped around every inch of her. Yet, the truth is, I love her as one of my children. If called upon, I would sacrifice anything and everything for her, including my life - as I would for any son or daughter. If asked, I would do anything within my power and ability for her - as any loving father would for one of his children.

To my friends and family, I find myself boasting about Lisa with great pride and happiness - as any caring, loving father would.

She is an extraordinary woman with rare talents, immense patience, deep compassion and exceptional intelligence. She doesn't like things done quite well. She prefers that things be done perfectly. In business I learned about the 90 percent rule - that the final 10 percent of effort to reach perfection was just too time consuming in a world where time was basically everything. Get it done about 90 percent right and you have a good business effort. Lisa would not be good in pure business. She is fantastic at things having to do with the arts - music, literature, cuisine. Her mind works logically and disdains superlatives, hyperbole and exaggeration. I have never eaten a salad anywhere near as good as the ones Lisa makes. I have never heard a book dissected as logically or as perfectly as Lisa does it. Everything in her life shows this sense of order and thoroughness. Her friends envy her for this ability. It is extremely uncommon.

On top of all that, it would be impossible for anyone to have a more loyal and devoted friend. If you can count yourself among her friends, you have found someone upon whom you will always be able to depend. Mind me now! It is not easy to get into that exclusive group because the entrance examination is excruciatingly difficult and very serious.

I admire her more than she will ever, ever know. I envy her extraordinary abilities. I love her very much - even as a father might.

Please don't tell her. It will be a violation of our treaty!

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