MY “BABY D” IS NO LONGER A BABY, but she’s still mine. On this, her 21st birthday, I get choked up as I think about all the wonderfully fun times we had together.
From the first day, when I visited you at the hospital in the incubator, and read to you from Matthew chapter 1, and you fell asleep during the genealogy….
…to when I almost killed you at age 2, when you climbed on one of those cheap white plastic Walmart outdoors chairs, stood up and pushed against the back until it tipped over and your head smacked the cold, hard concrete. I ran over, panicked, picked up your lifless body…only to find it wasn’t lifeless! Nothing happened at all, except a little red dot on your forehead. I set you down, turned around… and then you did the same thing again! And you still didn’t die!
Remember “Neighborhood Patrol”? You in the wagon and me pulling you over bumps, and roots, and through hedgy tunnels. You laughed and laughed and never once did you get killed..until I decided to get in shape.
I was 40-years-old when you were born and overweight, I needed energy, so I started a work-out program with me pushing you in a runner’s stroller. It went well for a few weeks until I tripped and the stroller—along with you—fell headlong into the concrete gutter. You cried a little. Not dead yet.
I then sold the stroller. (Come to think of it, maybe that was your sister, Laurel?)
Remember rolling in the mud puddles in our neighbor’s yard? You didn’t drown!
Getting rid of your binkies was hard. But the way we did was so creative. We tied your “meemies” to a fishing line and cast them into the sea off the Hermosa Beach Pier…then cut the line! You cried and cried and cried, until I took you to Rocky Cola Cafe. There, you ate a huge piece of chocolate cake, and then proceeded to barf it up all over the table.
In fact, you were always throwing up, earning you the affectionate nickname: “Barfin’ Baby D.”
I’ll always regret when we went to Disneyland, maybe for the 10th time, and I hid from you while you went to the bathroom.
I’m also sorry I got you addicted to popcorn with too much butter and Tony Chachere’s Cajun Spice.
I’m not sorry that I spent lots of time with you growing up, watching you in the leads during those silly evangelistic plays at Hope Chapel Academy, giving excellent speeches in the 7th grade, hearing you preach in the open air and observing you share your faith.
I’m not sorry I took you to 13 parades a year, to the Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards, to the Rose Parade and to Michael Jackson’s Memorial service.
I’m not sorry for the bruise you got on your shoulder when, at age 11, you out-shot me shooting skeet with a 12-gauge shotgun on one of our many church Family Camps.
After we moved to Texas, I loved seeing you blossom into the woman you are today. The only downside was having to fight off all those atheist boys you were so attracted to at Johnson City High School.
And, I don’t regret taking you to Dallas to camp overnight to see John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” where we were first in line and the Dallas Morning News interviewed you.
I don’t even regret going to the One Direction concert in San Antonio with you and waiting at the hotel where that boy band was rumored to be. They never showed.
Wait, yes I do regret that.
Then you got your scholarships to Baylor University. I’m amazed at your diligence in maintaining a 4.0 throughout most of your tenure there.
I was so proud when you went for the summer on that missionary trip to the native American Reservation, then the following year on a scholarship to write a paper at Notre Dame University, the first years I’ve missed your birthdays.
Once again though, due to my self-quarantine, I’m now missing your 21st. But, I’ll never forget how you broke into tears when you heard that Laurel contracted coronavirus and was afraid I would catch it and die.
Remember, I can’t die until I see my first grandkid! You know how it goes: I will be holding Little Stevie in my arms, lovingly looking into his eyes… and then the massive heart attack will grip me. (My will is in the gun case, by the way.)
I love your tact, poise, wisdom and thoughtfulness. I appreciate that you are your own woman now, with your own causes, politics and opinions.
I trust you. I believe in you. I’m so proud of you.
You are no longer Baby D, but Danielle.
Still, you’ll always be my Baby D, now and forever.
I love you!