Lily stepped back to admire her artwork. “I think that’s it,” she said, smearing some yellow paint on the table as she tried to wipe it up. She wiped her hand on her t-shirt. The painting was made with generous amounts of brown and blue; those were his favorite colors. She dipped her brush in the yellow paint and added her name to the bottom right corner. “I think he’ll love it.”

She smiled as she thought of other paintings she had made for him. She knew he kept them all because she had found a collection once in his room. Apparently, after the refrigerator ran out of room he would move them to a box that contained nothing but her artwork.

********

Lily slowed as she neared the door and peeked around the edge. There he sat, exactly where she expected him to be, reading the newspaper. “Daddy? Are you busy?”

“Oh, hi there, Lilypad! I’m never too busy for a visit from the most beautiful girl in the world.” He folded the newspaper and set it on the table beside him.

“Oh, Daddy. You always say that.” Lily walked into the room with her hands behind her back. “I made you something.”

“For me? Wow! It must be my lucky day.”

“I hope you like it.”

“Like it? How could I not like a painting from the up and coming sensation, Lilypad Lawrence?”

Lily smiled. “I usually just sign them as Lily.”

“That’s ok. You’ll learn to spell your full name at some point.”

Lily loved the way her dad could keep a straight face when teasing her. She noticed his eyes looked tired.

“So…” he made a motion with his hand. “When do I get to see it?”

Lily brought the painting around from behind her back and placed it in his waiting hands. “I figured it had been a while since I made one for you.”

His eyes smiled as he examined the entire painting. In the bottom left corner were two figures standing in a field of flowers. A river flowed nearby and birds flew through a bright blue sky dotted with wispy clouds.

“Are these bears?” Dad leaned in closer to the painting.

“Yep. Do you know why their holding hands?” Lily had moved beside her dad. She placed her hands on her his arm and leaned in to look at the painting with him.

“Hmm. Let me see.” He pretended to search the painting for clues. “Oh, I know! This big one is dragging the little one down to the river to give it a bath. That little one does look a little stinky.”

Lily giggled. The routine had started. “No, silly. That’s not it.”

“Hmm. Maybe…” he raised an eyebrow as he glanced at Lily. “They were playing with super glue and now they’re stuck together?”

“Nope.”

“Oh. I think I see it now. They’re holding hands because the river is about to wash them away into the ocean?”

Lily knew this could go on forever. It seemed he could make up ridiculous scenarios for any painting she made. “They’re holding hands because it’s me and you.”

Lily thought she saw her dad blink back a tear.

“I love it, Lilypad. It’s my favorite one so far. What’s this in the corner?” He grabbed his reading glasses that were dangling from his neck and put them up to his nose. There were some small yellow wisps in the sky above the river and to the right. It was not the sun, that was clearly depicted in the upper left portion of the painting.

“I didn’t know if anyone would notice that. That’s momma.” Now Lily choked back tears so she stopped talking.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, both of them just looking at the painting.

Finally dad put his arm around Lily and hugged her tightly. “I’m really do love it.”

“I’m sorry I haven’t painted anything for you in a while. I thought you might want something for your room here. I wanted it to be something fun.”

“It’s perfect for my room. This place gets kind of dull sometimes. Until that old geezer at the end of the hall starts yelling about the food. Then it gets a little lively. And I’m so proud of your artwork. I was telling Frank,” he gestured out the door and across the hall, “about that painting you sold to that gallery. That’s amazing. But your artwork was always special.”

Lily leaned her head over on her dad’s shoulder. “No. You’re special, daddy.”