There she is – all dressed in white, waiting for her moment, her time in front of the alter to be christened. Look at the expression on her face – she knows something is up, she is perplexed but not agitated… her destiny awaits.
I was even more unsuspecting than the baby girl dressed in white. A few weeks earlier a former student, mother of the baby girl, asked me to come to the baby christening which was to be held on Father’s day. I thought it different, but nevertheless, I confirmed attendance. My questions were, (and in this order) what should I bring the baby for a gift and what can I wear. The answer was that it was during church service so I was overjoyed that I could finally wear a dress and hat again.
I made it to the church just as the choir was gearing up in praise and worship service. Traffic in Brooklyn on a Sunday morning was a beast. I was afraid I would not find parking near the church but I got lucky. I was late, but I did not miss the main event. Baby, mother, grandmother, and godmothers (2) had not arrived yet. I got a text later in the service that the christening team had arrived and all was well. At the end of rather a long sermon, the minister called up all the families; this was new to me, every christening I had attended was for only one child.
I was a little more melancholy than usual on Father’s Day. All of the elder men in my family are gone, dad, granddads, uncles, godfathers, etc. My dad has been gone more than 15 years and since my mom also passed a few years later, I just don’t celebrate Father’s Day much… except for a few texts and phone calls to friends and family. The ambiance in the church reminded me of the last christening my father attended – it was for my brother’s first child. I remember it vividly, it was in Washington D.C., and dad was worn from the plane ride from Miami. Dad wanted to christen the new baby girl himself but during the ceremony, he motioned for my brother-in-law to finish the service for him. Dad was too weak, he had suffered from several mild strokes and other health challenges plagued him but he was determined to see his new grandchild and point her in the right heavenly direction.
Well, this Father’s day was different; I was dressed up, singing with the choir, and perked up ready to take pictures of the christening team party. The time came and the minister called for the children to come unto him. I was motioned by the mother to come up to the alter – originally I thought it was so that I can take better pictures of the christening party.
Then we were all asked to lay hands on the little children; I was motioned to do the same so I stopped taking pictures for a moment to pray with the mom, grandmother, and the godmothers.
Once we finished the service we all stood outside taking photos. It was a joyous occasion. It reminded me of happier times on Father’s Day. After church, we went to eat at a African / Carribean cuisine restaurant. We had a difficult time choosing spicy fish or spicy chicken. Everything was great.
The little one fell asleep in the outdoor dining facility and rested during most of our dining experience. It was a great day, the sun was out, there was a gentle breeze and if there were a few more trees rather than brownstones, we could have been on an island.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. It was getting late and time to pack up and go. As I was leaving the grandmother mentioned that I did not have my turn holding the baby. I said, “give her to me, someone take pictures.”
Trust me, it’s been many moons since I held a toddler on pavement and I had a J. D. grip lock on while we both posed for the pictures. After we had our photoshoot, the baby’s mother came to me and said, “I know I did not ask you formally but will you be a godmother?” I looked at her in disbelief. I smiled. She smiled. I waited for an explanation but none came. I was thinking in my head but I didn’t say it, “who would want a granny for a godmother?” A colleague later asked me if I accepted. I said, “of course”.
In a time when during the pandemic, I was feeling the weight of the loss of my dad and other fathers, I am blessed with a little bundle of joy. The universe has a sense of humor. I hope to live to see her Medgar Evers College graduation!