Abby is her name, short for Abigail. Somewhat of an old-fashioned name yet timeless in its elegant beauty. In Hebrew Abigail means "my father rejoices", and, oh, how this father rejoices because of this Abigail.King David of Biblical fame had a wife named Abigail, who was a virtuous woman full of tact and wisdom. Perhaps Abby will grow up to be that way, too. I have a feeling she will at least grow to be beautiful...and charming...and kind...and loving...and generous. I know because she is all those things already, even at the age of seven. Let me tell you how I know.
She sits cross-legged on the floor, in front of the television, dressed in Winnie-the Pooh pajamas that Grandma and Grandpa got her for Christmas. Matching Pooh slippers warm her feet. Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail that dangles halfway down her back. The ponytail helps to keep the hair out of her freckled face as she bends over, concentrating on her art work.
A pad of plain white paper lies in front of her, markers to the right, stickers to the left. The stickers are scratch-n-sniff, each one emitting the fragrance of the fruit depicted on it. These fruits are animated with arms and legs and faces and are doing things like dancing and singing, diving underwater, skateboarding. A banana, its skin half-peeled, wears a derby hat and croons a tune into a microphone. A grape sports a diving mask and snorkel as bubbles emanate into the water. Two bananas hold hands and dance wearing over-sized shoes on feet at the end of their stick-skinny legs.
I try to glance at Abby's art work but she quickly slaps her hands on the paper, obstructing my view.
"I'm making a card for you so you can't look yet," she says.
"Oh, sorry," I say, feigning a properly chastised expression while I retreat to the sofa.
She focuses intently on her work, only occasionally looking up at the television. For at least half an hour she is busy drawing, coloring, printing, stickering. Finally she awards me her finished product.
At the top of the page capital letters of various colors proclaim TO: DAD. Underneath the words is a large cross, a thoughtful choice for design since Abby has observed that I have a small collection of crosses, many of which I wear to church on Sundays. Her cross is brown and accented by horizontal wavy stripes of green and yellow. A wavy red stripe runs vertically, giving the impression at first glance of blood cascading down. Under the cross, again in capital letters of various colors, are the words CROSS and, below that, ABBY.
I am thrilled to receive such a gift. I never tire of Abby's hand-drawn cards and pictures because I know they are expressions of her love for me and her desire to make me happy. I wish I had space enough to keep them all, along with those of her two brothers. Unfortunately, parents must be very selective in choosing what goes into the keepsake box and what goes into the trash bin.
I say "Thank you, Abby" with a big smile as I give her a kiss and a crushing hug. This one is a keeper, for sure.
She returns to her spot on the floor, picks up another sheet of paper and begins another act of love, this time for MOMMY. This one, when finished, bears similarities to mine, save for the central image. The cross is replaced by an angel with flowing gown and smiling face. Abby has any number of models for her design since Debbie's angel collection spreads throughout the house.
These are the times that expose my guilt for my selfish use of time. Abby has just passed an hour or more of her time - time she could have spent on herself playing with Barbies or watching TV. Instead, she gave of herself, creating "gifts" which she wasn't even sure would be kept. I'd like to say she was following the good example of her 40-year-old daddy, but would I be honest? Would I spend time on activities others might consider frivolous simply to show my love for her? Oh, I suppose I could make the excuse that I show my love for her in other ways. Still, at times I wonder who is being the example for whom.
So, continue Abby, for your father rejoices. Keep showing me the way to live—with unconditional love and grace. One of these days I may just get it.
And don't ever change. Don't let the trappings of adulthood change you from the sweet, kind, loving, generous person you are now. I'm expecting a hand-drawn card for my 70th birthday.