Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Brigid, Jr.


The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
I'm not sure where the phrase came from, but in looking at our children, those we love, it stands to reason. When we hold them for the first time, we move with such caution, speaking in hushed tones, recognizing something within us that had always slumbered, sightly alive, just waiting to be born.

I didn't meet Brigid Jr. until she was in college. It was an open adoption. I always knew where she was, who her Mom and Dad were. I had OK'd every detail of the small, home town adoption arranged through the local doctor. But I'd made a promise not to try and contact them or see her until she could make that decision for herself and if the decisions was not to acknowledge me, I would respect that. They in turn said they would support whatever made her happy. I was 18 years old.

I moved from the State, finding it easier to keep my promise from a distance. I'd like to say the span of years passed quickly, but the reality was more protracted. There's a line in Shakespeare's Othello that says "There are many events in the womb of time that will be delivered". Womb of time? Yes. The sweat of endurance, the agony of spreading bone. Nothing worthwhile is easy or quick, but oh, at the end, it is worth the travail of time.

When we did meet, several things struck me, especially in that I had not seen her since birth. She looked exactly like me. Not just the face, the coloring, the unusual almond shaped eyes . We had the same, identical haircut, identical ewer, and the same color shirt. We ordered the same item on the menu, had the same habits, the same mannerisms, the same laugh. It was almost spooky. OK she liked Glocks and I liked Smith and Wessons, but still. Yet she is who she is, the loving heart, the talent, the drive, from the two wonderful people who raised my child, their daughter, one Hawaiian, one Irish.

Genes or environment? Who's to say. It's both, it's neither, it's something we can only watch in wonder. But whether they are like us, or simply their own person, we see something in them. We see a journey, ours, theirs. We're the rim and they're the spoke, spreading out, seeking ground, moving away, yet always close to us. We're both a part of a journey that is worth every bit of the wear, every mile.

Such thoughts came to me when I was out in the field, within that quiet, questing about the scene, gathering, watching. It's harder in that sometimes children are involved. But underneath my gear, I felt the trace of a wallet in my back pocket, in it a well worn, tear stained photo of a beautiful, fair haired girl with blue eyes.

It's why I do what I do. It's why, when we look in to the trusting eyes of a child, we see, not ourselves, but the foretaste of responsibility, the fierce need to keep them safe, no matter what.

And so it was I reflected on such things, that last day out in the field, looking up at branches shattered by forces bigger than themselves, hanging in the air as if part of the earth was thrust upward, a spectral tracing to a loss more profound than simply lost years.

Somewhere that night a family would grieve. Somewhere that night, through no effort of mine but a heart laid wide open, my child lay safe.

I looked up at broken trees to a heaven unbroken and simply said thanks.


Rev. Paul said...

Children are such a blessing; it goes beyond any feeble words I could conjure.

Happy b-day, Brigid Jr!

Guffaw in AZ said...

Happy Birthday Brigid, Jr.!
And thanks Brigid, Sr. for sharing that.

Stephen said...

"It's why I do what I do. It's why, when we look in to the trusting eyes of a child, we see, not ourselves, but the foretaste of responsibility, the fierce need to keep them safe, no matter what."

So very, very true. Beautiful, Brigid.

Murphy's Law said...

I've always admired the way you handled that, and your daughter is proof that good genes pass regardless of parental proximity. Best wishes to you both on this special day

Rob's Bunker said...

Thanks for sharing a personnel story.

Monte said...

Children are your mile markers in life.
Life's lessons come from children and hopefully to children.
I'm just an uncle but I try to play my part well.
Happy Birthday, Little One.

Brigid said...

Rev Paul - your girls are proof positive as to what good parents can do. My best to your family.

Stephen - you are the sort of understand that very well. Y

Murphy - if you get out to Colorado, they'd love to take you shooting. My son in law is one of the good ones, and they are both active in the shooting community.

Rob's Bunker - thank you and the best of New Years to you.

Monte - Uncle's (and Aunt's) play more of a role in our life then we think. My Uncle was an engineer at Boeing and from him I got my interest in aviation.

Hat Trick said...

I'm here to wish Brigid, Jr. a happy birthday!

Your activity in comments hopefully indicates that you're feeling better. Hang in there and remember to follow the doctor's instructions.

Tango Juliet said...

Happy Birthday Brigid Jr!

Auntie J said...

Brigid, I speak from the other side of the children are not biologically my own, but I love them as fiercely, if not more so. I'm blessed to be given the opportunity to raise these three little girls, to have them call me Mommy, to share in their lives daily (even when I'd like to *cough* share them with the nearest gypsy troupe). I only wish that their biological parents had been as wise as you, and chosen to give their children what they could not.

I have no idea of the circumstances surrounding Brigid Jr.'s parents, if they had children and completed their family with her, or if she, like my girls, came to a couple who could not have children of their own and wanted them desperately. I'm glad you see her adoptive family as a blessing all the way around.

I watch my children, and I wonder how much of their biological parents' genetics will out, and how much the love and nurturing my husband and I provide will balance those out. When I come face to face with my girls as adults, will what I see be the mirror only of their genes, or also a reflection of our raising them? Your words give me hope that I'll see myself in them, as much as I'll see those who gave them life.

Thank you.

Happy birthday to Brigid Jr, and blessings for you both!

Mrs. S. said...

Happy Birthday Brigid Jr.!

Here's hoping that she does not receive too many "combination" presents, the curse generally landed on those people whose birthdays fall within a month of Christmas. Of course if the gift is something used at the range, that might be forgiven.

Sherry said...

I cried all the way through this post, well, except I laughed at the line, where one of you likes Glocks and the other S&W. No one can accuse you of not having a strong backbone.

Blue said...


Lila said...

Children are very much what drives those of us with true deep morals to want this world to be a better and safer place. Thank you for this post. Much birthday wishes to her and to you for giving her the blessing of life and a life beyond what you were able to give at that time. Your true mother love is a humbling gift and one beautifully shared.

Old NFO said...

Happy Birthday to her!

Brighid said...

Happy Birthday to Brigid Jr, and to her mom...thanks!

immagikman said...

Happy Birthday Brigid Jr. I hope you read this blog on a regular basis. You have an extraordinary mom and Im sure you will also be an extraordinary mom. Best of luck in the New Year to you too.

Skip said...

Happy birthday Jr.
It is a little scary to realize there are two of you redheads running around loose. ;)