In less than 24, she#8217;ll be 21

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2006

Saturday, July 20, 1985 was anything but a typical day around the Bryant household.

Nine months pregnant and sick and tired of the oppressive heat (and perhaps fed-up with my antics), Deborah Bryant decided the time had come to add to our little family.

It was on that hot July day that my lovely wife stuck a well-placed right elbow into my lower left rib cage and urged me to take her to the hospital.

At that time, we were visiting two good friends here in Ahoskie n Liz and Bobby Dilday. We bid them a hasty good-bye, went home and grabbed the bags and made a beeline for Roanoke-Chowan Hospital.

It was somewhere around early to mid-afternoon when we checked in. Nearly 12 hours later, Danielle Rae Bryant entered the world at around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 21, 1985.

I remember it all as if it was just yesterday. For me, it does seem like yesterday.

Where has the time gone? That little bundle of joy is now a grown woman upon crossing the threshold of “official” adulthood at the ripe young age of 21.

The past 21 years have been a blur of non-stop activity. We progressed from stuffed animals…to books….to the Barbie craze….to electronic gadgets…..and finally to clothes, clothes and more clothes (with jewelry and perfume as added features).

The older Danielle became, the more expensive her tastes. And Deborah and I thought we would “save” a bundle after getting our child out of diapers. We just didn’t know how cheap we really had it.

But Danielle has been worth every penny (make that every dollar; make that every $100).

As a man, I longed for a son. I could picture in my mind an afternoon of pitch-and-catch with my boy, or a game of H-O-R-S-E, or teaching him the manly arts of life….how to defend himself, how to love and be loved and, most importantly, how to lower the toilet seat in order not to offend the fairer sex.

But when I first laid eyes on my little girl, someone could have offered me 10 sons and I would have flatly refused each and every one.

Danielle had her daddy wrapped around her tiny little finger. It was love at first sight.

Sure, I entertained a few thoughts of teaching her a thing or two about athletics. She even dabbled at volleyball and basketball in high school, but I could tell she really wasn’t interested in taking her “game” to the next level.

Despite any of my efforts, although subtle, to make her a tomboy, she was a girl…a woman…in all facets of life.

Even though she was partly named after my father (the late Ray Bryant), Danielle Rae has grown into a beautiful young woman. I just wish Pop, and my mom as well, were alive today to see what a lovely creature the Lord has made.

Also on my wish list is how I yearn to turn back the clock and have the opportunity to spend more time with Danielle during her formative years. The rigors of my profession, the long hours spent away from home covering the lives of other adults and children, robbed me of such an innocent time in the life of my own flesh and blood.

But despite my absence at such critical stages of her development, Danielle turned out just fine. I can thank my wife for that. She is responsible for taking that small piece of human clay and molding it into a smart, beautiful and responsible young lady.

Danielle has also done a good job of choosing her friends. For what little involvement I had in her rearing, I did preach one thing…you are who your friends are. Apparently, my daughter understood those words as her friends who visit my home are always welcome.

In less than 24 hours, that little black-hair, brown-eye girl who came into this world will celebrate her 21st year on this Earth.

Thank goodness she shed that early appearance (she looked way too much like her dad at birth). She is now a blonde, blue-eyed beauty, just like her mom.

Danielle, thanks for a wonderful ride through childhood…a few bumps and curves in the road as a teenager….and now a smoother path as an adult.

Enjoy your day on Friday (and “BackDraft” on Saturday). But take a few moments to pause and reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going. There’s still a big wonderful world out there waiting for you. Just make sure you continue to choose the right path.