On December 10th Lucy Joy was born. I believe that being trusted with the office and calling of ‘grandfather’ is a joy and responsibility that younger men lack the equipment to grasp. As in all stages and circumstances of life, it is another opportunity to discover the heart of the Father in new and fresh ways. Below are my ramblings concerning the birth of a new stage of joy named Lucy.
Lucy’s birth story for me started long before the day she made her entry into the world. It began 29 plus years ago the day Emily Joy was born, my daughter, Lucy’s mother.
Something awakens in the heart of a father when a daughter is born, something different than a son. In the Lord’s kindness I have the privilege of being a father to both. And what good parents discover is that although they love their children equally, they love them differently and that is perhaps how it should be. I am enjoying watching my son-in-law personally experience that which previously could only be viewed from afar.
It is hard to describe what awakens in the heart of a father for his daughter. It’s like his eyes are opened in a fresh new way to beauty, femininity, purity and joy. It awakens a desire to be protector, hero, provider, nurturer and guide. We are drawn out of our masculine worlds into a world of tea parties, dolls, story books and dancing with one oh-so- lovely standing on our feet. And it’s a journey we joyfully and willingly take. I have found that a father’s love for a daughter does not change over time or stage of life; it only deepens with shiny new facets taking shape, adding gravity to what was already there. And then comes the day that Steve Martin eloquently captured in The Father of the Bride, “you go from worrying about your daughter going out with the wrong kind of guy to going out with the right guy”. And when that happens, while dads may remain aging heroes, they properly, though with some tears, clearly have to take a back seat to the right guy. Such is life.
But then, in my case, after some years came a gift. His name is Oliver (see Exploring New Stages, March 2011). Oliver, the curly-headed boy who smiles easily, is always on an adventure of discovery and clearly loves his Popsy (that’s me!). And a new stage of life began. Oliver, someone to be rough and tumble with, someone who is the beginning of a whole new generation that has yet to hear my jokes! Oliver, like chocolate chips cookies, a day at the beach or a kiss in the dark brought longing for more. And the thoughts of a little girl, a granddaughter, began to dance through my mind and imagination. Could it happen?
Emily is not a gifted liar. Emily’s face, much like her mother’s, reflects her emotions and quickly gives away what is going on in her heart. But not this time. She got me. After one of our returns from Thailand something Emily said or did made me think she might be pregnant. I talked to Patty about my impression and we eventually asked her. Emily, with the skill of a Los Vegas gambler, bluffed her way through our query and convinced us she was not. End of story (!)– or so we thought! On Mother’s Day, over a special lunch, she revealed the truth to us in a beautiful way! We laughed, we wept and once again the picture of a little girl began to dance through my imagination. Could it be? And it was!
The time of Emily’s pregnancy seemed to speed by, not for her of course, but for me. And as Christmas was approaching in earnest, so was Lucy’s coming ‘out party’. The labor plan was developed and we each had our role. Mark of course would be with Emily, Patty would be acting doula and me- I would take care of Oliver. A labor of love for me! The details of Lucy’s birth have been eloquently captured by Emily. But please bear with me for one more beautiful detail.
Lucy is my daughter’s daughter. Lucy carries the fragrance of her mother, the little girl who stole my heart so many years ago and is now the mother of two. I cannot and should not try to recapture earlier days. But Lucy, somehow, mysteriously, connects for me the joy of the past to the joy of the present and causes them to flow into joy of the future. She is a gift. And to make the gift even more beautiful Mark and Emily added one more bow to the package. They named her Lucy Joy McConnell Lein. She carries forward the name McConnell, my name. Our wonderful son plans for no children. He is my only son as I am my father’s only son. Our family name McConnell will at some point fade away- but not now. Lucy carries not only the fragrance of her mother, my beautiful daughter, but our very name into the next generation – what a gift indeed.