I always wanted a girl. I imagined long flowery hippie dresses and funky jewelry with flowery hats. I figured we’d play dolls together for hours at a time. I dreamt of long cozy talks and painting our toenails with minty glassed of iced tea and a pile of magazines between us. I figured we’d trade books and secrets and I vowed we would never have teenage screaming matches like I did with my own mother. I imagined it all good.
What I got was even better.
Some of us are lucky enough to get two chances at the mother daughter bond. You don’t have much control over it the first time around and you get a scary awesome amount of control on the second.
Hannah Isabel came into the world on February 19, 1989. And for the last twenty years she has brought us thousands of hours of pleasure, mixed with hardly any worry and lots of pride and amazement.
We were thrilled when we got her and we are thrilled still. Her daddy kissed her 10,000 times before she was one so no man would ever be able to say he kissed her more. This anyway was his plan.
When we moved to Vermont the year she was thirteen one of her friends advised her to pout and complain and not just go along with our harebrained scheme. But our Hannah has always been a pragmatist. “They have decided. I might as well be cheerful about it because we are going. And they promised that if we are miserable and I am right and they were wrong we can move back. Besides I am going to ask for a horse to make it easier”
She got the horse and I got one too and we rode into Vermont and her teenage years together.
We spent hours on the balcony looking at the mountains and talking about boys while we soaked up the sun and painted nails and read about teenage fashion. ( She tends toward quirky Free People mixed with her easy elegance.) The smell of coconut oil instantly takes me back to those sun soaked afternoons which I will always cherish as among the best of my life.
We followed her to soccer, horse shows, softball, and plays. She was born curious and she tried everything there was to try. She is a student of life, practicing until she accomplishes whatever she decides she wants. Always interested in fairness and justice, she discovered constitutional law in high school and wound up studying it for three years even adding an independent study when they ran out of classes for her to take.
She dated one nice boy after another and we dissected them like rats. She was an astute observer of human nature and she knew what she liked and more importantly what she didn’t. Tall, well mannered and funny were at the top of the list. She likes warm cars, open doors, and liberal politics married to sweet attention and playful Saturdays at the beach or on a sled.
She was an organizational wonder who forgave me lost keys and missed appointments. She never met a rule she didn’t like and she made the trains in our house run on time. She was a born gown-up and God knows there were plenty of times when we needed one around here.
Hannah is trustworthy and smart, reliable and funny, silly and true. She is a great big sister to her younger and older brother both. She is the most fair and rational person I have ever known. I have always admired her and often strive to be more like her in this cool-headed poise especially.
At nearly six feet tall she looks like an elegant racehorse. Her hair is always neat and her beautiful face clean and shiny. Only this girl is built for speed and duration. She is the kind that lasts.
Why fight, we know we have a good thing. Hannah compares our relationship to her friend’s relationships with their parents and she says we are closer than almost anyone she knows. Since many of her friends spend their vacations here she figures they want what we have. Some of her girlfriends have become like daughters and sisters to us, and have spent more holidays with us than with their own families.
We do read together and we get manicures and pedicures and cook big elaborate holiday meals. The family recipes are in their fifth generation from John’s Great Grandmother down the line to Hannah.
We are plenty lucky and we know it. She is exactly what I was dreaming about all those years ago when I had dolls spread out all over my bed. Only I didn’t know back then how big to dream. Hannah has shown me how.
Happy Birthday Hannahbella, no longer a teenager and now more woman than girl.
I love you more and more and more….