Oh daughter of my soul And child of my heart You’ve come to me by grace and mercy has sheltered you Your love enfolds my weaknesses Your laughter erases my pain Your shining hearts melt even the hardest of cynics Oh daughter of my soul And child of my heart Be true to the one who gave you life Don’t depart from the music of your hearts Don’t allow the darkness in Shield grace for she will always keep you Allow wisdom to be your adornment Be at peace with all you encounter And trust in God alone Oh daughter of my soul And child of my heart God has given you to me I give you back into His care And trust in all you are to be I love you…. Daughter of my soul And child of my heart…. Julianna and Stephanie
I wrote this poem many years ago, when the girls were six and nine. We were living in an utter shitheap of a house in the backblocks of Cambridge, next to a woman who had more animals than Noah’s Ark! I was inspired by what my daughters taught me then, and what they still teach me, today. Often, I go on about Sammy, and there are distinct reasons for that, but in my deepest heart, these girls are my crowning jewels. Steph made me a mummy, and now Juju is making me a safta (nana). What I am most proud of, is that these beautiful young women have become my dearest friends. I love them so dearly, and will continue to be their greatest cheerleader.
I was just sitting in the back of the car while Neil drove, Dad sat in the front, singing his heart out to Frank Sinatra. I was remembering. Times spent with Dad, in the home and the trips that we frequently take him on.
One such time, we went to Waiwera, and found ourselves in an area that was not too familiar with me. It was along a single road, on the beachfront, but in an area that was quite private. We parked the car, and I helped Dad out. It was a lovely sunny day, so we ventured onto the beach, however, Dad seemed a bit unstable, so I held his hand to steady him.
It was odd. I hadn’t held Dad’s hand like that, since I was sixteen years old. One remembers these things. The moments when subtle little changes become the norm, and holding hands with your father was no longer the ‘done’ thing.
But on this particular day, he needed me. And I was there. I guess the little girl in me, needed him in that moment too. It didn’t last long, but it was just us, just a special moment in our collective history, that will always remain with me.
Walking through the home, alongside Neil, I held Dad’s hand again today. He was a little nervous, as we had to walk a different way than usual, but he gripped my hand as I led him through the maze of hallways.
He can’t think of much to say at the moment, but he does remark time and again, how much he enjoys Neil and I! It’s lovely. His shock of hair standing on end, his teeth seemed to have moved and he’s developed a lisp now. His hands, like my Nana’s, are bony and slender. His appetite seems to have returned, which is a big relief!
And so here we are celebrating you, the wonderful glorious young woman Stephanie Dannella Alexandra Hornell!
What a privilege and honour to be your Mumma, to be your friend and rival Unicorn admirer in this life!
I’ve wanted to write about you for the longest time. but I couldn’t find the words.
Today the words found me….
I can’t remember life too much before you, it simply doesn’t seem worthwhile to do so. You were the prayer most deepest in my heart, the cry of my soul, the longing for the greatest and hardest job ever – Motherhood. I didn’t want a great career, loads of money or even a husband actually. All I every truly desired deep in my truest soul, was you. When I discovered on my 22nd birthday that you were there inside of me, well I think you know I felt, and still feel to this day. As a person who cherishes words and likes to express them, Steph you left me speechless.
I think most people know you took a VERY long time to arrive (52 hrs peoples!) but when you got here, the rejoicing was endless. Uncle Tony doing his version of an Indian Rain Dance; Aunty Caroline holding you and smiling deep into your eyes; Nana just dying to get hold of you; Poppa holding you and singing; your Dad just overwhelmed and me……..looking into your dreamy eyes and feeling whole for the first time in my life. Knowing that I did something right, and you were IT.
I remember that evening, being surrounded by eleven people around my cubicle in the hospital, just mesmerized at this wee baby, and my how you slept. Six hours straight, and I just didn’t want to sleep because I was so afraid that you were a dream. That if I woke up, you wouldn’t be there. And there you were, and here you are now.
I’ve watched you grow up and marvelled at different aspects of your personality as you grew. Your only dolly that you really loved, you renamed Ashley after your baby cousin, and that dolly is still in this house. You were more of a matchbox car girl, playing out in the mud and being a racecar driver! You were certainly far more interested in burning ants outside with a magnifying glass, than being inside and raiding my make up cupboard – that delight went to your sister 😉
I would scratch my head and throw my hands up in the air when you had dismantled something YET AGAIN to see how it worked, and then struggled to put it back together! That’s been the mainstay in your life – your mind and your inner workings are still such a mystery to me, but I behold that gift with great majesty and wonder.
Then when things like puberty hit and your body started changing, that was such a hard time for you. Horrible comments from family members about weight etc, they were arrows in your gentle sensitive soul. The nastiness of some around you have weighed heavily on you, but somehow you manage to rise above it and still remain so beautiful, whilst I’m wanting to lop off their heads and tell them to sod off! You have known great rejection and abandonment in your life, yet I’ve never seen you reject a single soul.
Loyalty and faithfulness are big for you, and I so deeply apologise that others have not honoured that within you. I again, have stood by and marvelled at how others could treat you so badly and then smile at your face 🙁 I only know that in time, they will reap what they have sown, and that their own pain has clouded their own beautiful souls.
I have witnessed your unconditional love towards your siblings – all of them – and your love runs so deep, you had their initials tattooed on your wrist. I didn’t understand at the time, but I do now, and that you did that to physically show your love towards them blesses me immensely. Your Mumma is so proud darling <3
Your head wobble thing you do, your sass, your individuality and knowing who you are deep inside – these are things that I couldn’t teach you, they are what life has taught you. Your humour and quick wit are still a wonder to behold – who knew I would birth a frecken comedian?!
You bring so much love, so much goodness to our world, and I’m so blessed to have been the one to raise you. I don’t take my job as your Mother lightly, I never will. You were the greatest gift I had ever received and every day I am so grateful you are here. Your being, your soul, your heart, your talents, your goodness, your grace – they bless this world and we are surely all much better individuals for knowing and loving you.
My girl – my first True Love, I honour you today with all that I have, and thank God for the woman you are: Stephanie Hornell.