I feel compelled to share this post again.
May our boys grow up knowing they are named after very special men whose impact is felt even though they no longer walk the Earth.)
originally published MARCH 17, 2009 (now that this blog is my new home, I'm re-posting some favorites over here)
Lee was 18 months old yesterday. It was a bittersweet day for me. He's such a joy, and this age is our favorite so far. (I know. I say that every month.)
My father died when I was 18-months old. When I look at Lee, it's impossible to imagine leaving him right now, and because of experience, it's impossible not to imagine leaving him right now. He's just beginning to show us his personality, and we're just beginning to guide him in determining right from wrong. There's so much left to do, learn, see, hear, understand, misunderstand, laugh about, and love. There would be way too many things left undone. There were way too many things left undone.
When I married Ryan, not many people understood my decision to keep my "maiden" name. Not surprising - I've a tendency to make lots of decisions people don't understand. But this one seemed crystal clear, and others' reluctance to accept it didn't make sense to me. And then I realized: it's impossible to understand what it's like to lose a parent at an early age unless it's happened to you. My name is the only direct link to my father that I've got. I have not a single memory of him. Not one. No blog, no family videos, no journal or letters - just pictures and a few items in a shoe box. Family members have memories, but really, by the time I was old enough to hear and understand them, so much time had passed that even their memories had faded. And he was only 21 when he died. No one knows the man he would have become.
It's easy to see that I've inherited traits from my father. He was skinny and had brown, cow-licked hair. He was bowlegged, had acne and crooked teeth. He was passionate, compassionate, and took risks. He loved listening to Jackson Browne. Sometimes he spent money with abandon (okay, not so much this one).
The day I found out I was pregnant with Lee, I told you I immediately smoked my last two cigarettes. What I didn't tell you was that I then went into the den, put on Kenny Loggins' Danny's Song, and sobbed. I cried because I knew how happy our families would be to find out the news, and how happy our fathers would have been to see their first grandchild. It's the first time in a long time, if ever, I've wept for my father.
I think I can speak for my mother when I say our lives have been blessed and we are grateful for what has happened in the years since 1979. My father's death changed us and our relationship. Without my dad Alan, Amanda, Papaw and Mamaw, and entire Newman family my life would not be the same. Nor would Lee's or Ryan's.
I pray Lee has some of my father's traits, too. As I celebrate Lee's 18-month birthday and every birthday hereafter, I pray my father's memory is also celebrated. And soon another Daniel will be joining the party.