Monday, June 27, 2011

Special birthday wish from Dolly -- and Dad

I’m staring at a sweet little doll with a very cute dolly face. She’s got pink stringy hair, two dark eyes, a button nose, pink cheeks and a happy-face smile. Her arms are forever stretched out in a hey-hug-me-please pose, and she is proudly wearing an “It’s A Girl!” button on her blouse.

Dolly – I have to call her something – has been part of the Grebnief family for 31 years and I know exactly when I bought her for Lauren, my sweet little girl who turns, ah, 31 today. Here’s the story.

It was June 26, 1980. Jimmy Carter was in the White House, the Braves were in the cellar, Kramer Vs Kramer was at the movies and the Lovely Miss Wendy was in pain! She was very pregnant and had started complaining about being uncomfortable as we went to sleep. It would be a long night.

We spent much of the very early morning (June 27) timing what we thought might be contractions; first 8 minutes apart, then 7, then 10, then 6. It seemed that we were going through false labor and, like any concerned husband, I rolled over and went to sleep.

I woke up to Wendy staring at the ceiling, still uncomfortable and still having what seemed like contractions that were anything but regular. Her doctor suggested we come by for a quick check. Six hours later Lauren was born. That’s the short version. The full details would involve x-rays and consultations with experts, lots of waiting around and a last-minute decision to do a C-section.

Lauren’s arrival was a miracle; one of those transcendent moments that are both common place and extraordinary. If you've been there, you understand; if you're scratching your head in puzzlement, no amount of explaining will suffice. But I'll try. Minutes earlier there had been seven people in the delivery room: Wendy and me, the doctor, an anesthesiologist, and three nurses. Now there was an eighth person; a new life.

My daughter’s spirit filled the room, her presence reminding us all how glorious and precious is this world we inhabit; that miracles do happen and that we need only look around at the ordinary to experience the spectacular.

An hour later Wendy was resting comfortably in a room at Northside Hospital, Lauren was in an incubator in the nearby nursery and I was dashing between the two, making sure all was well and trying to figure out my new role as a new Dad.

At some point I had this overwhelming urge to go out and buy stuff; presents for my wife and daughter. I stopped at a florist and picked out a large and colorful bouquet of flowers for Wendy, then drove over to a nearby mall to find something appropriate for Lauren.

It seemed a little early for a bike or even a tricycle, a miniature make-believe kitchen, Barbie doll, board game or puzzle. I walked out of the mall’s toy store empty handed and wandered around a bit, glancing at itsy-bitsy onesies and prom dresses, baseball bats and gloves, gold bracelets and diamond rings. I was feeling a bit befuddled – happy but dazed!

And then I saw Dolly. She was waiting for me on a shelf with all her sisters, part of a promotional campaign at Rich’s. Dolly wasn’t too big, too sophisticated or too precious for a newborn. Her cute little smile and hug-me-please pose seemed just right at the time.

Dolly was around to welcome little Lauren on her first day of life. Today, given the chance, I think she’d say it’s been great having a front-row seat watching a sweet little girl become a beautiful, vibrant young woman.

Dolly helped me out 31 years ago, a little gift for my little girl; an expression of love when all the words in the world seemed lame and inadequate. And here she is yet again, coming to my rescue.

Happy birthday, Lauren!

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