Less than 3 weeks past her 21st birthday, Renee called me at my office in the Thrifty Corporation building on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles to tell me that the examination she had just been through at the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Panorama City had shown that the baby was in a breach position.
The doctor said that since the due date was upon us, and the baby was packed in tight, it was unlikely they could get the baby to safely turn into the right position. He wanted to do a C-section, and soon.
I shared the story with my co-workers and headed home. I stayed home the next day and we prepared for the surgery, planned for the following morning.
One of our steps in preparation was to try out a new place for burgers. The Great Grill was a little shack with only outside seating at a picnic table in the middle of a vacant lot. We fell in love with those burgers – bacon, avocado, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and everything piled high with fries on the side. Oh Lord! That was a good day!
Renee went into labor about the time the cheeseburger was beginning to digest and we ended up in the hospital about 10 hours ahead of schedule. After Renee emptied the Great Grill contents of her belly into a bowl in the hospital room, the nurse wasn’t at all bashful about expressing her opinion about a woman having a giant cheeseburger for supper when she was showing signs of labor and scheduled for a C-section the following morning.
We were young, though, and didn’t really care about the nurse’s opinion. Those cheeseburgers were good!
With her temper flaring, the nurse quickly hooked Renee up to all of the necessary equipment and prepared her for surgery. After Renee was wheeled out, I put on my blue scrubs and hair net and headed for the delivery/operating room.
A few minutes later, our first child, Katie, was pulled from Renee’s belly.
On July 19th, 10 days ago, Katie turned 17.
This is not just one of those, “I can’t believe the time has gone by so fast,” moments for me. This is one of those, “I can’t believe I’ve been blessed with such an incredible gift,” moments, accompanied by lots of those, “Please God, help me to make the most of these next few years with Katie” moments.
This summer, after carrying a nagging feeling in the back of my mind for several months that Katie was getting away from me, I asked her to commit to a regular weekly appointment to meet with her Dad.
Mondays at 9:30.
The first night, we got into a big fight. Katie said a series of things that got under my skin, and I unloaded a furious lecture on her that lasted way too long and ended poorly.
I apologized the next day and asked if she would ever want to spend time with me again. She did, and I did. In the course of our mutual apologies, we discovered that we didn’t know each other very well.
I know Katie’s life well, but from a distance. Katie knows me well, but mostly from stories from other people with whom I have shared my life in far more intimate details. She said she didn’t like hearing things about me from other people and having to reply with something like, “Oh, I didn’t know that.”
We’re trying to get to know each other now. I want to share my heart with her. I want her to know how much I adore the woman she has become. I want to invest myself in her life and learn all I can from the gift of her life and youth.
Katie is beautiful. Really. She’s smart and funny, and she loves people. She’s generous and compassionate, spontaneous and driven. She is a gift. She is someone worth knowing.
She started out backwards, and hopefully she’ll end up backwards – against the grain of the status quo. I want to know her in the meantime. I want to spend every spare moment learning the secrets God has hidden in her life.