A Gift From the Heart

It was intended to be a special Father’s Day gift, but Stephanie couldn’t wait until next month to let Richard in on her plan. Yesterday she showed him a completed document, which will set the wheels in motion to change her name officially and legally. Two things about her name are going to change, but the most important is that she has chosen to drop her surname since birth, and adopt Richard’s.

Needless to say, it was quite a moment for her dear Daddy-O, and one that I’ll never forget, either. She had let me in on her plan just shortly before, so I had already recovered from the surprise and sudden misting up, before she got him going with her surprise. Which proved to be a very good thing! I have never seen him so taken aback by anything, nor so lost for words. It was all on his face, though, so no words were necessary.

No man has ever earned this kind of honour more than Richard, and it’s a culmination of the hopes I had for all of us when I agreed to let him be part of our lives way back when. It takes a very, very special man to take on what he did. His own children were already adults, but he didn’t even bat an eye about starting all over again with a little three-year-old. His love, patience and compassion never flagged in the early years, when a pair of wounded hearts needed time to heal and learn to trust again. Nor did he ever flinch when some of the mess from my former life intruded on our new life together. Many a man would have walked away right then and there, but not Richard. It has been a rather interesting ride over the past sixteen years, to say the least, but through it all, he hasn’t once regretted taking us on. Quite the opposite. I always say that Stephanie and I are so lucky to have him, but he insists that it’s entirely the other way around. Wow.

I had thought about changing Stephanie’s name many times over the years, but always held back as I wasn’t sure that it was a decision I was entitled to make. Her father disappeared out of her life by choice, and Richard earned the title of Dad from the very beginning. However, it still didn’t feel right to force a name change onto her. It wouldn’t have mattered when she was little, and probably it would have been her preference, within her level of understanding at the time. But would she still feel that way as an adult? Would it be robbing her of her true identity? What if her father did reappear, miraculously changed, and able to contribute something positive to her life? What if? What if? But now the decision has been entirely hers, and that makes it that much more special and meaningful, for all concerned.

She is also going to drop one of her middle names, which I initially felt a bid sad about. But really, it doesn’t matter in the least now. It was just a third name tacked on because her father insisted on following his family’s tradition of three given names, and it’s basically meaningless. It was just chosen because we liked the sound of it, not because it had any significance at all. Her second name is the one that is significant as it’s my middle name and my grandmother’s first name, and she definitely intends to keep it.

So, now I wonder how long it will take to get used to saying Stephanie’s new name, once all of the paperwork is completed? Probably not long. I never slipped once after I took it on, and it’s bound to seem like the most natural thing in the world when it’s her name, too.

Oh, and I just thought of another positive. No more anyone calling me by her soon to be defunct last name now, either! It’s a natural assumption, I suppose, when they phone for or about her and realize that they’re talking to her mother. I don’t make a big deal of it and usually don’t even bother to correct them. But it still makes me cringe a bit, you know?

Anyway, well done, Stephanie. The three of us have always been a real family, but soon it will be about as official as it can possibly get. Feels good, doesn’t it? 🙂

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