Today is my daughter's birthday.
She is my one and only child, and I love her with all my heart. Of all the many blessings I've been given in this life—blessings more wonderful and numerous than I could ever deserve—Lacy is the greatest. No father ever had a finer daughter…and no daughter ever filled her father's heart with greater pride, or his life with such joy. There is not a day goes by that I don't thank God for the gift of her in my life.
While some memories age and fade with time, others remain as sharp and clear as the instant they became etched into your being. I can recall holding Lacy within moments of her birth—a squirming, ruddy infant, impossibly tiny, who grew suddenly still in my uncertain grasp and stared back at me with blue eyes the exact same shade as my father's. I was instantaneously melted and transformed by a love so fierce and deep I would have done anything to protect her from harm. Walk through a wall of fire? Sure! Stand in front of an onrushing train? You bet! Step into a cage filled with hungry lions? Just swing wide that door! I was absolutely poleaxed by parenthood. From that second on I would have laid down my life in a heartbeat, paid any price to keep her safe and make her life better…and I still would.
Any man who says parental love shouldn't change him so fundamentally, has simply never opened his heart and soul, never allowed this new-born love to explode inside; never loved his child more than he loves himself. It ceases completely to be about you the very second your child enters the world. Or it did with me, anyway.
Lacy is named after my father. Her middle name is Baylen, which I invented…then made up a story to justify, which I told to her as a child, about an Irish princess of that name who lived in a magical world which lay somewhere between the fantasy realms of Wind in the Willows and The Hobbit, with a bit of Uncle Remus and Beatrix Potter thrown in for good measure. I don't think she was overjoyed at this one-of-a-kind middle name when she reached school age—but she now claims she's back to liking it. I hope so. And yeah, I'd probably do it again, though I'd give it at least one more day's thought beforehand.
We had a celebration for Lacy's birthday on Saturday evening, so she could have dinner at her favorite restaurant. But today is the actual day when the wheel resounds its annual click. That darling little girl is still blue-eyed, only now she's a lovely lady, a year shy of being a-score-and-a-half years old. And I'm sure she's thrilled I put that fact right here on Riverdaze for one and all to read! (Okay, I promise not to tell your age next year.)
Lacy and her husband Dave, at Saturday's dinner.
Dave starts a new job today—so along with birthday
wishes for my daughter, I want to wish my favorite
son-in-law good luck…and to say
how proud I am of him and his accomplishments.
Frankly, though, the way I see it, fathers ought to be allowed certain leeway in regards to recounting a daughter's birthday—because nothing makes a father feel older than watching his beloved daughter grow into a beautiful woman; birthday's remind us of the duality of time's passage, and how it can be both gratifying and poignant.
Not that time could ever lessen fatherly love and pride.
I love you Lacy Baylen. I'm so proud of who you are and the person you've become. I am humbled by your accomplishments. You have enriched my life with more happiness and joy than you can imagine. Gave me a reason to live. Shared countless adventures, and hours of laughter. I treasure the memories past, and look forward to those ahead. No father has ever been more blessed. I wish you all good things and a long life where love prevails.