Teddy was a father, but not a parent--
Life without a father's presence seen through the eyes and heart of a girl who longed to be a daughter.
Dina Washington's father was simply never there. He didn't want her when she was born and his first reaction when he saw her was to actually reject the week-old girl with a slap. Through her life, on the rare occasions when they met, she was proper and respectful and he was drunk and critical. Every meeting started with hope but every word and action shattered her dreams of having a "daddy" into smaller and smaller pieces.
The honesty and openness with which Dina shares her story make it a guide for anyone who has grown up with a parent who has been unavailable, either physically or emotionally. Each chapter of her recollections concludes with a letter to her father, baring her thoughts and feelings so readers can understand and benefit from her experience.
The evolution of how Dina views her father over time is reflected in the way she starts her letter. Initially it's "Dear Daddy." Then just "Daddy." In her teens it becomes, "Teddy." And, finally, she simply writes "To My Father." However, there is never a sense of victimhood. Instead, this progression describes a woman coming to grips with a reality in her life and expanding in understanding of what it has meant to grow up with memories of a father who abandoned her at birth.
Rather than a sad tale, this is a positive reflection of a strong, confident woman who hopes her story will help others-- both children who essentially are missing one parent, and parents who are unaware of just how important it is to be present for their children.