Caylee’s 23rd Birthday

Trey Whitaker
2 min readAug 2, 2020

On the afternoon that you were born, I returned home to take a shower. As I walked up our front porch steps, it felt different. I was a father now. I looked at the steps and wondered whether they would be safe for you. Despite months of preparation for your arrival, it was that small ascent up the stairs that crystallized my fatherly responsibility. From this point forward, my number one mission in life would be to help care for you.

Just a few weeks later, after some lunchtime basketball, I was in a locker room with some workmates. One of the guys commented, “It’s too bad you didn’t have a son to hang out and play sports with.” We’re not friends anymore.

As the years passed by too quickly, I found that parental responsibility was mostly a gift and a privilege. You were and remain a godsend to our family and myself. A truly beautiful soul.

In recent years, the tables of responsibility have begun to turn. When Gram passed, you were there to hold me up. When I injured my foot, you pushed me through the airport in Paris as I sat on a baggage cart. You supported me as I limped to an emergency room in Montreal. During the recent shutdown, you helped to protect and care for your mother and I.

As far as my workmate’s suggestion from years ago, he couldn’t have been more wrong. We’ve shared countless adventures and hung out in some amazing settings. We’re father and daughter but also the best of friends.

Thank you for blessing our lives and making each day a joy. May each of your days be as wondrous as you are. Happy birthday Caylee.

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Trey Whitaker

Former CrossFit gym owner, corporate manager, paratrooper, youth sports coach and jujitsu black belt. Now a trail steward at Haleakala National Park on Maui.