So the phone rang last Sunday afternoon. It was my cousin's daughter, Kay, who recently had her first baby, an adorable little guy named Braden. She lives in Ashburn, Virginia, which is pretty much Washington D.C. I couldn't figure out why she was calling me, of all people, and on a Sunday afternoon to boot. I thought perhaps she was calling at the urging of Mary, my cousin, who asked me to order a book for the upcoming little tyke way last Thanksgiving, which I agreed and them promptly forgot to do. I was all set to tell her that I had, in fact, ordered the book from Amazon and that it was on its way, when she said, "The reason I was calling is because Brett and I were wondering if you and Paul would be godparents for Braden."
Me? A godmother?
Perhaps second to my life's sadness at not being a mother is another, softer layer of quiet grief at not being a godmother. My godmother, Eileen, was such an integral part of my life that I mourn her every day, and remember her with joy every time I walk past my china cabinet, which is part of her legacy to me. The other part is my fierce determination to fight for the underdog and absolute refusal to accept bullying of those who are different physically or mentally. Eileen spent her entire life fighting palsy, a physical disability that made the simplest acts like brushing her teeth or drinking a cup of coffee a challenge that would be insurmountable to most of us. She lived her life with quiet grace and didn't complain about what she had to work harder to do. Her soul was one of the purest I have ever known, and her death was marked with a rainbow that I know to my bones was sent by God to welcome her into a home in which she would never again have to worry about the limitations of her physical self. My godmother was so important to me that she sat next to my mother at my wedding, and Paul and I presented her with a rose during the ceremony, along with my mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law.
When my nephew was born and my husband was asked to be his godfather, I cried a little inside. Okay, I cried buckets. I was angry and hurt that I wasn't perceived as "good enough" to be considered as his godmother, whether it be because I'm not Catholic (they are) or because she chose her best friend from childhood for the honor. It's still a wound that goes deep enough that I have never talked about it with my sister-in-law. I'm sure she never thought of it as excluding me, even though that's how I perceived it. Pushing my completely-non-active-in-the-Church-recovering-Catholic husband to be involved with his godson's religious life is really one of those character-building activities for me. There's a small grain of sand in my gut that irritates every time someone brings up the fact that Paul is Jordan's godfather, and sandpaper that wears away when they ask why I'm not his godmother, too. I try to be tactful, mature, and graceful when I answer, but I'm sure that "I just wasn't good enough" has slipped through my lips before my mental filter could catch it.
But now, a woman who I had a very small part in raising (Kay was my first babysitting project, and I still remember several Halloweens of wearing my boots and jeans to look like a cowgirl so I could take her trick-or-treating around the streets of Walcott when she was little) and her husband (a man I didn't meet until their wedding) have asked me to accept the responsibility of being a part of their child's life. Honestly, I never even expected to know this child other than through pictures and stories. The fact that we are two full generations apart, and that he lives an entire country away, would pretty much preclude the idea of him "hanging out" with me for the weekend.
But I'm going to be his godmother. I'm going to stand at an altar and pledge to assist his parents in raising him as a child of God. What an amazing gift. I'm humbled, and grateful to be thought worthy of the honor.