My Dad, walking into his surprise party.
My Dad's retirement party was a couple of weekends ago. It was a small, surprise brunch, and he had absolutely no idea we had gathered all of our family and a couple close friends in one place. My Dad was born and raised in South America, has lived all over the world from New York City to Seoul, Korea, and has one of the most interesting stories of anyone I've ever met. And although his adventures are far from over, his working-life story just ended as he retired from his career as a federal agent last month. And if you know my Dad, you know he may have a sometimes stoic exterior, but is truly the biggest softie beneath it all. So you can bet that whenever our family gets a chance to see him happily surprised or showing some extra emotion, we soak it up.
And during his brunch, Hank and I thought it would be fun to tell him the news that the little baby who is due to arrive this August, would be taking his name as a middle name.
"Dad, we have something to tell you."
My Dad of course looked worried, as most Dads of daughters would look when they start a conversation this way, but relaxed a bit as I said to Henry, "Tell Pop-Pop, Henry!"
And Henry said, "Okay Poppy. My baby brother's name is..."
After he said the name my Dad's face crumpled up and tears jumped into the corners of his eyes.
"Really? Are you sure?"
"Yes Dad, we're sure."
"Really? His middle name will be Stephen? And with a 'ph' too?" (His name is often mistakenly spelled Steven).
And then we all started crying.
I can't imagine giving my son a better middle name. A name that stands for strength and determination, for generosity and true, unconditional love. And a first name we've loved forever, a happy name that makes us grin as soon as we hear it, a name that has a meaning yet to be determined, until we meet the little guy behind it.
This August when Charles Stephen comes into the world, it'll be pretty amazing for him to meet the man he's named after too.
See you soon, Charlie! We already love you so much.