I can still remember every carefully-nuanced, precious little syllable in the voicemail left by my first son, barely 2 years old: "Happy birthday, Daddy. I love you!" Back then, I was a "hot-shot" business consultant, flying around the country, restructuring an American icon, and reading about it in the morning papers. I was also in mourning, navigating a painful divorce. I kept his words, replaying the recording for months, no matter where I was. "Hap-py Birth-day, Dad-dy. I Love You!" His poem of love pulled me out of the blackest void.
I have a recording of my youngest forming his first sounds as he came to live in our world. It's a sweet song of a new soul unfolding with a squeak. I cherish the sounds, the laughter and the things my children said as we played in imaginary worlds. My youngest was about 4 when he huffed, "I'm tired of playing the blues. Can we play the reds or the greens?" I placed my guitar on the bed, and we both laughed as his eyes twinkled with pride at his wordplay.
Some of life's most beautiful quotations are the shortest. My future daughter-in-law took my breath away when she first called me "Dad." As a father of four boys, I was convinced that no little girl would ever know me as "Dad." When my new little girl spoke those words to me, I melted.
My wife knows that I regularly melt, weak-kneed, before feminine charm. When we met in 1981, "You're girl-crazy!" was her normal refrain, even as she became my best friend and confidant. After our lives were jostled about for years, we rediscovered each other and our deep love. She would look at me and say, "My David!" I would look at her and dream. Then, one beautiful day, we added "I do" to our list of favorite quotations.
Humorous quotations are wonderful ice-breakers. But the quotations we write in our hearts are those expressions of love that warm and expand our lives. May you find and hold such beauty.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.