A few days ago, my ever-so-curious and talented son-in-law Edward Frys discovered a long-forgotten and deeply buried treasure of floppy disks bearing assorted thing I had written and saved over the years. I had not seen them or anything on them in 15 years or so. Among the digital cobwebs on these vintage computer disks was a note I had written on the occasion of my oldest daughter’s 18th birthday. With her permission and at her behest, I am sharing with you what I wrote her then and the subsequent note for her just-passed 36th birthday — Eighteen years after she turned 18.
18 Already…But I am not All Ready
This morning I reached
Into the crib to pick up
My baby girl.
But the crib was gone
The baby was grown,
And I was left to wonder
How I missed so much.
I can’t believe you are already grown. I was just remembering how excited we all were May 8, 1981. Grandma and Grampa, Papa and Memaw, Felicia and Tom, D’Anna, Tammie, and Don… it was the most remarkable day. The very first grandbaby in either family.
Your mother and I loved you so much. We were so proud of our beautiful daughter. And you know what? We are even more proud today. We are proud of the young lady we have raised. We are proud of the way you conduct yourself. We are proud of the person you have become.
Before you were born, all the doctors and nurses told us you were going to be a boy. But you have always had a mind of your own. You have always had a flair for the unexpected – so, you surprised us all. And what a pleasant surprise you have been! Ten thousand sons could not bring us the pleasure and joy you have brought to our lives. I remember when you told me about your friend and his new car for his 18th that came with some low insurance.
As you find your way in this world, I hope you will always try to live your life by the principles you have been taught. I hope you will always put God first. And I hope you will have the courage to follow your dreams, and the joy of a life lived to the fullest.
I wish you every joy. I wish you happiness. I wish you the kind of love your mother and I have found. But most of all, I guess, I wish you were back in that crib, so I could do it all right, so I could cherish here every moment, so I could write down every detail of every memory of your precious childhood.
I love you. We all do…
HAPPY 18TH BIRTHDAY,
May 8, 1999
My Dearest Ashley,
I just discovered this note thanks to Edward moving some of my old files over to DropBox. I was obviously a little emotional and sentimental when you became the first of my children to reach that threshold of “adulthood.” I wrote you a note for your 18th birthday. It is page two.
Here we are, 18 years later and every word of it is still true. The 18 years since your 18th birthday have been a wild, roller-coaster ride. You have known your share of hardship and heartbreak and have provided us more than our share of joy and jubilation. Who knew 18 years ago you would make us Doo-Dah and Mimi? Who knew your son would become the thief of our hearts…just like his Mom did? Who knew he would be as sweet of spirit and as curious of mind as you.
You have fallen on hard times, landed on your feet, picked yourself up, found your place in this world, joined your life to a good man, and all the while, managed to be a terrific Mom. The future is bright. The arrow is up. Don’t forget about the God Who has never once forgotten you.
I hope I am here 18 years from now to review this next phase of life with you.
I love you forever,