At least, I had never heard of any other "Beanie Babies" back before my DoRena-Beana was born. That was 21 years ago this coming month. We called her "Dinky" prior to her nativity, because we didn't know whether she was a boy or a girl, and we did not want to depersonalize her by calling her "the baby" or "it." I've always been uncomfortable with referring to a baby as an "it," whether in or out of the womb. If DoRena had been a boy, I don't remember what we would have named him (my wife probably does); but never mind that, it doesn't matter. I nicknamed her "DoRena-Beana" very soon after she was born, and that eventually morphed into "Beanie," which has pretty well stuck with her family and friends; except that she is also "Sissy," especially to her siblings (and to her parents when they are talking to her siblings about her). Whew, I'm already exhausted, and I haven't even gotten to the main point yet!
I went to Bloomington on Sunday to bring my Beanie Baby back for the holy days. I am well aware that she is not a baby anymore, but daddies perceive and relate to their daughters within a time warp, and, I'm sorry, but Tim McGraw is right, to me she'll always be my little girl. I can look at her and see that she is all growed up and beautiful, and positively glowing with happiness as she looks forward to getting married in May. But she is my firstborn, and the memories of her as a baby and a toddler are permanently etched upon my brain and on my heart. So, anyway, I was relishing the chance to go and get her for the Christmas break, especially because this is the last "hoorah!" for us as a family before her spring wedding. I was looking forward to the chance to visit with her, and to car trip with her homeward.
Well, you know that old saying about the best laid plans of mice and men?
Okay, so she got a car. Yep, that's right, her very first set of wheels. No, she didn't win it as a prize, but she did get it for a good price, and I'm pleased as punch for her to have her very own vehicle. But that's where the plot begins to thicken. First of all, it already meant that we wouldn't be road trippin' it together, not exactly. Still, caravanning can also be fun, even if it is only two people in two cars with lots of college stuff. Alas, that was also not meant to be. For, lo and behold, and unbeknownst to me (it is a good thing that Emily has her wits about her), when you purchase a car from a private individual (in contrast to a dealership), you don't get any "in transit" time. No sirree, Bob, you had better get that little beauty registered and plated quick smart, lest you be pulled over, ticketed and towed. Great. And just to make things even more interesting, the department of motor vehicles in Bloomington, Indiana, isn't open on Mondays. Why not? you ask. I could not tell you. Nor could I remain in Bloomington, myself, past Monday morning.
So, instead of bringing home my Beanie Baby on Monday, I brought home a carload of her belongings and left her behind for another day in Bloomington. To be more precise, I ran her around on a couple of errands, put some spending money in her hands, and tucked her back into bed with a head-splitting, sick-to-her-stomach migraine. That was not such a fun way to start the week. I drove home to South Bend, thankful that the roads were much improved over the condition they were in the day before. And I prayed that, first of all, she would not have any trouble getting her car registered the next day, and second, that she would be kept safe and sound on her lonely drive home all by herself. I was not the most cheerful person on Monday, as I was discouraged for my daughter, disappointed that I wasn't bringing her home, and most of all distraught that I could not simply take care of her. It is, I think, most difficult to let go of the responsibility that I have had for her all these years. I'm still her Daddy, to be sure, but my headship as her father is beginning to give way to the one who will soon be her husband, and to the plain fact that she is an adult now (no matter what my mental picture of her may be).
Ah, cruel world it is. I'm already empathizing with my colleague, who has five daughters to give away in years to come. Those years will come and go too quickly, if my own experience is any indication. Saying goodbye to sons as they grow up is no picnic, either, but that separation is of a different sort. I guess that each relationship and each experience is different, as each person is a unique individual, but there are certain things that simply are what they are for everyone.
Now, then, we have three weeks to bask in the glow of our Beanie Baby and to savor our time with her while she still shares our name and officially calls our home her "permanent" address. To speak of "permanence" seems a cruel sort of irony, but I am pleased for her to be spreading her wings and making plans for a nest of her own. In the meantime, I cannot hide my delight to have her around again. (Oh, yeah, she got home safely Tuesday night, in answer to my prayers and much to my relief.) I got to take her to the dentist this morning, and then out for brunch. She was also in church for an Advent prayer service this morning, and I am positively giddy to have her around for the services of the coming weeks. That is where and how I get to serve her best, not only as her Daddy, but as her Pastor (for a little while yet). My heart likewise thrills to hear her having fun with her brothers and sisters, too, who clearly love having her home.
The original Beanie Baby is still in her original packaging, so I guess that makes her a mint condition collector's item. Sam certainly seems to think so. She's not for sale at any price, but I am pleased to be giving her away to a good man; I know the two of them will make a good home together. She is a one-of-a-kind treasure, not to be found on e-bay or at any garage sale. I'm not sure how it is that the Lord should ever have entrusted such a priceless creature to one such as me, but He has not only preserved her but enabled her to grow and thrive and excel in so many ways. There must be people who get tired of hearing me dote over my daughter and my other children, but I can't help myself. I'm sure I must be quite a sight sometimes, gazing at my "little girl" with a goofy grin on my face, bursting with pride and joy in my beautiful Beanie Baby, marveling at the accomplished young woman she has become. I am truly blessed to be her Daddy, and sincerely thankful that the Lord has brought her safely home to us once more this Christmas.