Monday, June 18, 2012

My Goddaughter's Birthday

This is a special day.

Today is my goddaughter Nikki's 25th birthday.

I never had a sister, but I know from my experiences with my mother and my grandmothers that ladies don't like to disclose their ages — so I figure this is probably the last time Nikki will let me get away with that.

But I want to mention it for two reasons really — a person's 25th birthday is an important milestone, one that I want to be sure to observe, and knowing how old she is kind of puts things in perspective.

The year before Nikki was born, her father moved back to the St. Louis area where he had lived as a child. For a long time, he lived in Arkansas, where I grew up and lived until about a year after Nikki was born.

Nikki's father and I were close friends in high school and remained close afterward. We're still close.

And I remember being asked to be Nikki's godfather. I just don't remember when (except in a general sort of way) or how.

Her mother, Tammy, has told me many times that, when she and Randy discussed who should be their daughter's godfather, my name was the only one they considered.

I may have won that election by a landslide, but I was nevertheless humbled by the honor.

A quarter of a century later, I am still humbled by it.

And I suppose the natural inclination would be to assume that the date that I was asked to be her godfather would be one of those dates that lives forever in my memory. But I couldn't tell you what the date was — or even how they asked me, whether it was by letter or by phone.

Perhaps they asked me in person. I made an annual pilgrimage to St. Louis to see the Cardinals play the Dodgers in those days. It may have been on such a visit that they asked me. I really don't remember.

I just remember that it wasn't long after Nikki was born — sometime in the summer of 1987, I guess, maybe later.

I also remember joking with Tammy that I wanted a bumper sticker that said "Ask me about my goddaughter!"

(Actually, I think I was serious about that. Just never found one. Seems to me that you could only find "Baby on board" products in stores at that time.)

And now, she's all grown up with a young son of her own.

I keep up with her life these days via her Facebook status updates. And her mother frequently posts on Facebook about the grandson Nikki gave her.

So I have a pretty good idea of what is happening in their lives.

I never married, never had any children of my own, but I am very proud of Nikki — as proud as I would be, I suppose, if she were my own daughter.

Unfortunately, I only saw Nikki a couple of times when she was still a toddler. I wish I had been around for more of her childhood, but we lived in different states. Even so, she made me proud from a distance, and she makes me proud today.

And so, on this, her special day, I just want to say a few things to her.

Nikki, I love you very much. Each day, you redeem my own existence in ways I never would have imagined. May your life be filled with the same pleasure, wisdom and sense of purpose you have given mine.

Your love for your son reminds me so much of my own mother's love, there are times when I feel that some of her blood must flow through your veins. But maybe that is simply being a mother. Maybe it comes with the territory.

I know that can't explain it entirely, though. Not all mothers are as loving and nurturing as my mother was — and as you clearly are.

You must have inherited that from your own mother. You could not have inherited it from mine.

But that doesn't change how proud I am of who you are.

That will never change.

I hope you have a wonderful birthday and a long and happy life.

And I promise never again to tell anyone how old you are!


Anonymous said...

You made me cry. This was very beautiful.

Thank you for this.

Anonymous said...

She has a beautiful face and smile.