Thursday, October 09, 2008

Dancing with Cinderella

18 years ago today, I became something I had never been before. The entire trajectory of my life changed, and I am SOOOOO much better & blessed because of it.

That morning, October 10, 1990, we called our next-door neighbor to come over & stay with our 2-year-old son. (She still laughs with us about the detailed parental instructions we left with her—limited # of videos, food limits, etc.—all of which instructions were immediately & promptly ignored by her and by James…) Then, off to Forrest Gen’l Hospital we went.

Events of the day moved along as scheduled for a while. Then progress just stopped. A Dr. said there was no reason to be alarmed, but that he had a hunch. Thus, the events of the day deviated from schedule. Surgery was ordered. A gown was ordered for me.

18 years ago today, I watched a miraculous surgery from start to finish. Standing a couple of feet away from where the actual cutting was being done. Pass out? Not on your life! I was much, much too excited to pass out…. It was an amazing day. The surgery itself—and the watching thereof—is one of the single greatest events of my life.

For on this day, Rebecca Anne Madaris entered the world & was welcomed to the planet by her Mother, her big brother James, and me.

"She spins and she sways to whatever song plays
without a care in the world
And I'm sitting here wearing the weight of the world
on my shoulders
It's been a long day, and there's still work to do;
she's pulling at me saying, 'Dad I need you
There's a ball at the castle and I've been invited,
and I need to practice my dancing…
Oh please, Daddy, please' "

I was the goofy, doting father. Still am. Becoming/being the father of a daughter bored into the depths of my heart & soul and taught me things about myself and about the nature of my Lord that I am still trying to get my mind around. What a blessing!!!

2-year-old James never wavered a bit in his confident prediction that it would be a girl. (We didn’t know…tried to find out, but Anne didn’t cooperate…*grin*) When I would try to convince James that a little brother would be OK too, his constant response was “no we don’t; it a gull.” He was right, and I am most blessed because of it.

I’ll spare you from the thousands of images & word pictures that today brings to my emotional heart. Well, Ok…maybe just a knew it was coming! *smile*

"So I will dance with Cinderella
while she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella,
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight,
and she'll be gone"

Anne has been a lover of words since before she could even pronounce them or understand them. Mom’s husband Will used to chuckle about infant Anne trying to make the same noises come out of her mouth that the rest of us were saying. I’ve written in this space about Anne’s lifelong love of singing and of being sung to. She also has long enjoyed reading and being read to. One evening around age 2, Anne disappeared into her room & reappeared with 4-5 of her books. She marched into the living room, plopped herself up on the couch next to her Mother and said “teach me to read.” It came across as “I’ve got a spare 5-10 minutes, so let’s go ahead & take care of this reading thing…”

Rebecca St. James was a favorite of hers, along with Point of Grace. And of course, there were the daily viewings for several years in a row (literally!) of Cinderella and The Sound of Music. And then, school...Anne was most disappointed when she got to kindergarten and discovered that there was no actual homework involved. (Aside: this view of homework changed somewhere between kindergarten and, oh, 12th grade…*grin*) Not long after, I was granted the incredible privilege of baptizing Anne after she professed faith in Christ.

"She says he's a nice guy and I'd be impressed;
she wants to know if I approve of the dress
She says, 'Dad the prom is just one week away
and I need to practice my dancing…
Oh please, Daddy please' "

Anne is still a lover of words, music, and people. She’s a good writer who loves to read. (My own theory is that there is no such thing as a good writer who does not love to read…) She loves to sing and to listen to a wide variety of music. And she shares with my Mother a remarkable trait: Anne has never met anyone that she does not already know! (my description of both of them...BTW, Anne & Mom are both "Daddy's girls" too as I was just thinking about it...) She loves meeting new people and learning what makes them tick. She has a quick mind with a neat ability to synthesize new information and to learn new things. Basically, she thinks very well.

Oh I will dance with Cinderella
while she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella,
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight,
and she'll be gone...She will be gone

And now, as of today, she’s 18 years old. Yesterday, I literally watched her draw her first breath and learn to walk and talk. Last night, I sang to her regularly. Early this morning, she rode off to prom with some hammerheaded, hairy-legged boy. Now she is 18. You know how some birthdays seem to have huge significance? 13…21…30…50 (*sigh*)…Well, 18 is one of the biggies.

I haven’t a clue what Anne’s future holds. My prediction is that it will involve music, thinking, and people. I do know that I am deeply enjoying watching her calling work itself out. And I know that our shared Lord is shaping and molding her. Mainly, though, I know that Anne’s potential is huge, and that she’s ready to grab hold of her future, and that wherever I am, she will always have a home and a warm place of welcome and rest and a cup of coffee and a long bit of conversation. Anne is one of my favorite people on the planet. Time spent chatting with Anne over a Starbucks cup of coffee is time redeemed, to use the biblical phrase. Time well spent. Time enjoyed immensely.

"She came home today with a ring on her hand,
just glowing and telling us all they had planned
She says, "Dad the wedding's still six months away,
but I need to practice my dancing…
Oh please, Daddy please' "

Today, I announce again to all that I am the father of an amazing, complex, fun, creative, beautiful, talented, intelligent daughter named Anne whose future is incredibly bright and promising, and whose past has absolutely blessed my socks off. I, among men, am a man most blessed and gifted in the daughter God gave me. (note: in the son too, as written about earlier this summer…)

So I will dance with Cinderella
while she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella,
I don't want to miss even one song
'cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight,
and she'll be gone

The bold & centered words throughout this post are from Steven Curtis Chapman's incredible song "Cinderella" that he wrote when his younger daughters were 3 & 4 years old and his oldest daughter was 21. The song makes me tear up 100% of the time I hear it or read the lyrics. Including right now. Go here to hear this song & see SCC's music video of it; well worth the time to listen! BTW, after the song at the link, Steven explains what prompted the song...Also worth a listen.

*wipes tears & composes self yet again despite having listened to this song about 176 times*

Stevie Wonder sang it so many years ago: Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful? I can't believe what God has done…Through us he's given life to one…

Happy 18th Birthday, Anne!!! I love you and am so proud of you. We need to practice our dancing a bit more, don’t we? *smiles*

"Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all."
Proverbs 31:29

With much love,

p.s. - Got a little girl at your house? Go along to every ball at the castle and dance every dance and enjoy every tea party and reading session and ballet lesson and soccer game and whatever else comes along with that. For, as Steven Curtis Chapman said, all too soon the clock will strike midnight, and she'll be gone...MAN, did this day get here in a hurry! I'd give all of my possessions for one more reading of Bosnipian Blastoff or singing of Firefall's "Dolphin's Lullaby" ("Doffin" as Anne called it) or coloring session...


Mandy Dowdy said...

I too share quite a few memories of your wonderful daughter as a little girl. They all involve books and music, mostly begging me to read and sing with her. You do indeed have a special daughter.

Stephanie said...

Just doesn't seem possible. I can still see Anne rocking Dixie (our former dog) and singing, "Away in the manger, no crib for Dixie." A precious memory in our house! :) Happy 18th Birthday, Anne!
You are quite special, but you've got a special mom and dad, too. I'm honored to know all of you.

DeeDee said...

Mike (and Anne)...what an awesome honor to your daughter. Funny how when we start typeing those letters the words just keep pouring out....words of emotions and truth.

I am so glad that you got to enjoy her 18 yrs together...and pray God's blessings on 18 more...and more.

Next week we celebrate Shana's 30 yrs...where has all the time a vapor that appears so are the days of our lives..(OK, that was just a mix between scripture and a soap opera)

Joy, Debi

Anonymous said...

This was the sweetest post. I missed Anne's birthday but know it was a good one! Ok now I think I've posted this three times. I know how Anne feels knowing her daddy is cancer free. Amen! Sue Nobles

emily stogner said...

Hey Mike...Have enjoyed your entries for months..Our kids do grow up too, too fast. Being a mother of three, I have wanted to stop the clock sooo many times!! Oh well, enjoy every minute.