Laura Lake plays her violin for her talent Oct. 19 in the Miss Northern Suburbs Pageant. Lake will compete in the Miss Illinois Pageant in June.
The story that follows is, to the best of my recollection (although I don't remember what I had for breakfast the day I wrote this), the events that happened before, during and after my oldest daughter called me late night Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, with a bit of news.
During the past 30 years as a photojournalist, I've had the opportunity to photograph many great things, many sad things. I've made photographs that have stuck with me for many years, burned into my mind.
I've seen quite a bit that should have turned everybody's stomach, including mine, but when I'm making photos I am usually in the "zone," a place where my no matter what the subject is that I'm photographing, I simply need to be there. When I'm in my zone, the things I am photographing - good things or bad things - generally do not affect me.
I wish I could be so lucky to get into that zone when it comes to making photos of my daughters Erin and Laura.
I mean, family type photos. I'm pretty good, making photo after photo, which, frankly, my daughters got tired of me taking. I don't blame them at all.
But there are those darn event photos. Be it ice-skating shows, violin concerts and performances, graduations, confirmation, first communion. I've been known to get pretty emotional during those events, shedding more then a few tears. Can't help it, I'm a proud, emotional dad, just like the next guy.
Not only do I get emotional at my kids' life events, but also I get nervous, I mean really nervous.
I seem to not breathe that much at my kids' life events, which is not a good thing.
I tend to walk around like that sad polar bear caged in the zoo, pacing back and forth, back and forth. My girls know this, so sometimes they would keep me out of the loop of life events, otherwise, they'd have a pacing back and forth, non-breathing, teary-eyed polar bear, taking photos at their life event.
That was not a bad thing - I was at most of the girls' events, except when I traveled for work, but then again there was that polar-bear dad thing that the girls wanted to avoid.
Knowing this, imagine my surprise when oldest daughter Laura called my late that night.
Ring ? Ring ?
Laura: Hi Dad, it's Laura. What's your mailing address?
Dad: Hi, Laura. Why do you need my address?
Laura: I can't tell you right now.
Dad: OK. It's ___.
Laura: Thanks, I will call you back later.
Ten minutes pass; I'm thinking: What did Laura sign me up for, or what has she volunteered me for.
It was Laura. She put all my fears to ease then said, "Earlier tonight I won the Miss Northern Suburbs Pageant in Lake Forest, and I'm going to the Miss Illinois Pageant in June."
I almost swallowed the phone, stopped breathing, started crying and paced around my apartment like a caged polar bear.
"Sweetie, that is so wonderful, congratulations, I'm so proud of you," I said. "Thanks, Daddy," she said.
My next breath was, "What did your mother say?" "Oh she is really fine with it, too, and said congratulations. She was really happy and proud of me, too," Laura said. (Laura is the daughter of Casey Lake of Wisconsin Rapids and Melissa (Gross) De Lyser, formerly of Wisconsin Rapids.)
Laura said she didn't tell us because, "Remember how you get?"
Well, yes, I think.
She explained she didn't have the details for the June competition, but she shared what she knew.
I blurted out, "So its sort of like a wrestling tournament right? Like when I've gone to state individual wrestling to photograph that in Madison (something I can understand in the heat of the moment) where you have a couple of days of early competition, and then if you win some things there you move onto the big stage Saturday night."
Laura did not answer, then finally said, "I will get you more information, Dad." We wrapped up the conversation.
The next morning, I'm like a proud new father, showing photos she posted on Facebook.
I looked up what a father of a queen is called. Queen Father the Internet says, Queen Father. That has a nice ring to it, now I just have to have some T-shirts printed up.
(Thanks to Fedler Photographic Studio for the great photos and the use of them.)