Ok, to be honest, I didn’t know what the big deal was when they brought you home from the hospital. I thought things were just fine before you. Leigh Anne did her thing. I did mine. The biggest fights were over whether to watch “I Love Lucy” (her) or “Gilligan’s Island” (me). In fact, it wasn’t but a few short years before I knew I was right about you.
First, we had to start dividing the hamburger meat among five people instead of four. Next, Charles started paying attention to you and that stupid “taco” swing instead of taking me hunting for possum in the woods. And then, to top it all off, every time I did anything the least bit adventurous – like the time I shot Leigh Anne – you had to run tell Mama and Daddy.
So, if I’m being honest, your arrival in my life was not a cause for celebration, not on my part anyway. I’m sure you understand.
The funny thing is, however, when I turned seventeen or so, I found myself caring whether you were happy or not. I’m not sure where it came from, but I’m sure that’s what it was – all of the sudden you mattered a great deal to me. That’s why I sent you those purple flowers that time. That’s why I took you riding around town that time. That’s even why I took such pleasure in scaring the bejeepers out of you every time I had a chance. You mattered, and it mattered whether you were enjoying life.
After you got older, and life started happening to you in a way it never happened to me, when things seemed to be getting harder and harder for you, I prayed so hard that God would do something – anything, really – to bring a little joy into your life. Little did I know that out of that very dark day your most joyful gift would be born. In fact, I don’t think any of us realized just how good the turnout was going to be. I guess we’re still realizing it as we watch Jonathan grow into a young man any family would be proud to call their own.
Even with Jonathan, though, there was something more I wanted you to have. I wanted you to experience the kind of love I have with Kevin. The kind that makes you know you are cherished above all things, not because you are part of his family, but because he’s just that moved, that inspired, by you as a person. It took a while, but now that Marshall is in your life, please know that when I see that giggling smile on your face, I’m not saying under my breath, “How silly.” I’m saying, “Thank you, God. That sure is beautiful, isn’t it?”
So maybe you weren’t such a big deal forty-one years ago, but what can I say – you grew on me! Happy birthday, and I hope the day holds the biggest smile for you yet.