I come from a long line of males. If my memory serves me correctly, my dad was the eldest of six brothers complemented by two sisters. My father and mother had two sons. My wife and I brought three sons into the world. It was, with great anticipation, that my wife and I were awaiting the arrival of our first grandchild — a girl! Finally!
On a cold January day, Victoria Sabrina Epps was born and, shortly after her birth, my son brought her to me and placed her in my arms. As I looked at her, smiling and drooling (her, not me), two thoughts came to mind.
The first was: It mattered that I lived, and, that through my family, part of me would live forever. The second thought was, “What do I do with a girl?”
Tori would be the first granddaughter and would be followed by a succession of three grandsons (the male dominance appearing to prevail).
The boys, however, were followed by seven more granddaughters, smashing the pattern for our family.
My proverb has been that “grandchildren are God’s reward to you for not killing your own kids when they were teenagers.” Thanks to my three sons and their wives, we have been greatly rewarded.
I did learn something about girls from Tori as she grew up before my eyes. Mostly I learned that, with girls, you simply love and cherish them. And threaten to kill their boyfriends if they get out of line. Or even if they don’t get out of line.
I discovered a whole new world of dresses, dolls, ribbons, affection, and sweetness. And, though Tori has always been feminine, she has also been athletic.
I remember the years of watching her play softball. She was especially competent as a catcher and at third base. My role was screaming my lungs out from the bleachers, and, at the ball field, chasing two 16-year-old predators away from a 12-year-old Tori whom they mistook for 15.
In high school, she switched her attention to the water and earned a letter on the swim team. She became part of the drama team, both acting and directing. She also was part of the school’s music program, and one of my finest moments was hearing her sing the National Anthem at the high school football game — twice! All this while maintaining a grade point average leading to a HOPE scholarship.
At church, which she has attended since her birth, it was a joy to watch her move from the nursery, to serving as an acolyte in its various forms, to becoming a public reader of scripture, to service as a child care worker, and to serving as a vital part of the youth group.
Amazingly, she has never caused her parents, her teachers, or her grandparents the first cause for concern. Her friendliness, her compassion, her concern for others, and her willingness to help wherever the need arises has brought her respect from both adults and peers.
And now, as I prepare myself to have a tight throat and moist eyes, Tori graduates from East Coweta High School.
The tiny little baby I held in my arms 18 and a half years ago has become a lovely woman before my eyes and all I can do is wonder how it happened so swiftly.
The pleasure and the pride she has brought to my life is greater than I could have ever imagined. She will head to college shortly and to whatever life holds.
And I will still be there to serve as a threat to any wayward boyfriends.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.org) He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]