Good Number 82
I was already in the pool with Baby A when a dad walked onto the deck with his daughter on his hip. I had been talking to the other moms about their babies whose names all coincidentally started with the same letter. I didn’t pause to look at this dad because he was the only man in a group of women, or because he was a man taking care of his daughter during daytime hours.
He set his daughter down on the pool deck with her back turned to us. I snuck a peek at him again because he was an oddity. This man had an aura of good around him. He radiated goodness, as did his daughter, and this made me smile. They both possessed the kind of goodness that envelops an individual and simultaneously magnetically invites other people to step forward to touch this goodness. This goodness is beautiful and pure. It’s compelling. When we sense it in other people, Wifey and I call it good number 82.
While I mused on his goodness, I also noticed the way he beamed at his daughter and the way the light captured the back of her head which was adorned with the most adorable blond pig tails. This was a loved and doted upon child. You could tell that he lived for her. She sat quite well, perhaps she was between 1 to 2 years of age, and I wondered when Baby A would sit like that.
When I looked at them again, the dad was standing in the shallow end of the pool and his daughter was now facing the rest of us. While I had already recognized that this baby was special, her little face revealed that she was an extra special baby. She was a Down syndrome baby.
The bond between father and daughter which I had already perceived to be special suddenly became even more so. He didn’t treat her any differently, he didn’t look at her with disdain or embarrassment or shame. He didn’t ignore her. He embraced her with his open arms and heart. This took my breath away as this is how it should be.
At that moment I couldn’t help wishing that things were different. I wished that my father had even once looked at my brother that way. Although not a Down’s baby, my brother inherited a syndrome with many similarities, due to a random genetic mutation. I wish I could have seen my father’s eyes fill with that same unconditional love when he looked at my brother. From a young age I knew that those eyes full of love and hope were reserved for me.
My father is now dead and this wish will remain unfulfilled. But for 30 minutes that summer day I vicariously imagined what life would have looked like if this father and daughter had have been my father and brother.