Alex McLean

(Alex McLean Sharp / My Girl)

Ever since the tragic, horrific, disgusting details of the helicopter crash that took the lives of NBA star Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others that should never go nameless but always seem to became the “News Dejour,” much has been written and made about dads and their little girls.

I have seen story after story on social media platforms.

I have seen photos and hashtags.

I have seen Dads renew their interest; hug their daughters more often; tell their individual stories of how they share their lives; become more engaged with what their girls are doing and have done.

It has become the trendy thing to do, with always a mention of #GirlsDad, or some variation of that theme.

If anything positive can come from this awful occurrence, then I applaud the “movement” to be more moved. If this accident can create more love, then I hope it never wanes. If life can become more meaningful for the masses by the loss of life of these nine, then we should all stand and salute.

We should all say our prayers of both remembrance to their individual lives and thanks for what they gave both then and now. God only knows that this world that we live in today could certainly use a lot more love.

All of us.

I have a daughter. Her name is Alexandra and she lives in Nashville with her most wonderful husband, Evan, and their beautiful son — John McLean Sharp. More than being their son, though, Mac is our grandson. LOL.

(Evan is holding Mac and my grandson Jack is watching; Mac heads to Day Care; and Mac is already “heck on wheels / All Photos by Alex McLean)

My daughter, Alexandra, celebrates her birthday today. I have already texted her to say hello and give her well-wishes. After while, I will FACETIME with her and the family. Love the sights and sounds of all of them — including the oohs and woos of that little fella.

My mom, Betty, sent Allie some home-made caramels in a love package this week, too.

My son, Brad, will give his little sister a call, too. Mostly, he will give her grief for something. That’s his best present to all of us.

We all try to make sure that we reach out to say hello and give well-wishes in our own ways. Never to forget. Always to love.

Yet, we could do more. We should do more. If we only had the time, right? Then we would do more.

Guess what?

We all have the time that we need — if we just spend the time on what we need to do the most.

And, what I need to do the most is the least that I should do. Spend more time telling my family  — all of them — how very important they are to me. How much their successes mean to me. How much I want them to lean on me in their times of struggles. How much their own kids mean to me. How much their stories; and their laughter cheers my heart. How much I want to cradle them when they fall. How much I truly love them all.

That is my #pledge. That is my #present to my daughter this birthday. That is my #gift.

I know it won’t be easy. Oh, it always is at first. New thing. New commitment. The hard part will be endurance, and perseverance. Real change is not temporary. Real love is everlasting.

And, I will be upfront. My relationship with my daughter has never been an easy one. In fact, she scares me to death. Always has. Still does. She yells and I jump. She barks and I pounce. She calls my shots.

When she was just a little thing, I took her to the racetrack. In the back of a sales catalogue, there used to be a “notes page.” She tore it out and with a #3 led pencil she carved out her memories of the day. A filly named after her, Duchess Alexandra, ran for the first time at Keeneland. She ran last.

But that didn’t deter her biggest fan. A mere child just barely big enough to hold a pencil in her hand carved out one of the most vivid and heartfelt messages I have ever read. That note is framed and sits in my office. I take it down and read it often. Every time, I cry.

In part, it reads:

“Today I went to the races to see Duchess Alexandra. She’s named after me. When she game (sic) out of the gate and she led the way until they were pushing her around and she became dead last and lost. But it was her first time ever. But she was nervice (sic) and she was nice and comb (sic) at the beginning…”

The thing that gets me is that the note was written about her filly. But it truly means so much more than that. From the mouths and hands of babes…

Her words still hold the exact meaning for life. Her life. My life. Just life.

A lot of times when we come out of the gate, we can lead for awhile. We are emboldened. We are strong. We are fast. But when we get pushed around a little, sometimes we can go to dead last. And, it feels just like we have lost. Lost it all.

The thing to remember, though, is that this is our first time at this thing called life. Or so we think. And, we can learn from our “races.” We can learn to fight back. We can learn how race better; be stronger. We can learn how to win.

My little girl has learned how to win. My gosh, she is one tough cookie.

(My “little girl” appeared in “Cosmopolitan” magazine and I got to spend some time in the “Big Apple” with her, too)

After college, my little girl — who grew up in a town of 1,000 people maximum — grabbed one suitcase and a head full of dreams and headed to New York City. The place so nice they named it twice.

When I would go to see her there, it was like watching Mario Cart on steroids. She would dart into this subway and that taxi. She would sprint walk to this market and that little diner. She would walk and text at the same time like she was born to do it.

She took NYC by storm, by damn. Alex won her dream. She won that city over.

After that she moved to Nashville and got married. She now works for the Country Music Association. She now walks hand-in-hand with the likes of Dolly Parton, and some of the world’s greatest musicians and artists. If you watch the Awards shows, you may see her. She runs the red carpet like it belongs in her foyer.

She has taken Nashville by storm, by damn. Alex is living her dream. She is winning.

Every time I see her and watch her, I am both amazed and so proud.

She is so pretty. Mailman must have been a good looking dude, I joke.

She is so pretty amazing. Baby to Day Care early. Allie to job every day. Rush home at lunch to take care of a dog and two cats (all rescues, mind you). Back to work. Back to pick up baby. Home to make dinner and love family. Time to squeeze in 30 minutes to watch “Wheel of Fortune.” (Got that from her grand dad. And, she’s good at solving those puzzles, too.) Squeeze in a few minutes to take some magnificent photos for her blog ( Turn in. Wake up. Do it again.

That is my daughter. That is my little girl who has turned into a real life “Wonder Woman.” That is her.

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. And, to be honest, that does not mean a thing to me. Although I did place a bet on the Chiefs. (See Kentucky legislature; we need to pass Sports Betting.)

Today is also Ground Hog’s Day. And, that may mean something up in Pennsylvania, but it does not turn a shadow for me.

Today is my little girl’s birthday. That means the world to me.

I will think of her all day. Memories will dash through my head like a newborn foal. The first day I took her to catch the school bus, and then followed it all the way to the little elementary building just a mile away. The first time that she rode that bike over the hill and disappeared for what felt like an hour. That Christmas when she got the “Water Baby” that she wanted so badly. That first gymnastics meet when she was hellbent on not doing her routine, although she could do it backwards and forwards — literally and figuratively. She looked right at me and said with her eyes: “You can watch and see. I’m not going to do it.” That prom night when she wanted to drive my BMW convertible and I let her. That same prom night when I heard a few “bottles” jingling in her overnight bag. I removed those two bottles of Champagne. Kept them for 3 years. On her 21st birthday, I gave them to her. The look on her face and in her eyes. “I knew you took them,” she yelled.

I will think of her all day.

I will promise to love her every day.

I may not be a #GirlsDad. After all, I am just a dad.

But my gift to her on this birthday is that I will try to be a better one. After all, she deserves it. My kids deserve it.

(Fun times in Nashville)