Tredessa was born in Kokomo, Indiana on the most beautiful sunny day in 1983. Every year I tell her that and I hope as I tell the story, she realizes that I did fully believe at the time and continue to believe that God spoke a special blessing on that day and that the whole world was just coming alive in life and beauty and rejoicing at her pending birth (pictured, Dessa and me when she was 2 1/2 weeks old).
Happy Birthday, Tredessa! It's good I can see it that way – that beautiful day of your birth, in spite of the fact that you were considerably late and my water broke a full 2 days before you arrived (at a church softball game, no less, which your father did not want to leave until it was over and I was young and compliant enough at the time to agree…you're wondering who I was back then, aren't you?).
But when the doctor said he'd go ahead and induce, the clouds parted, the birds sang wildly and the sun made all glisten. The colors were more vibrant than I ever could remember. My third baby was coming. Would it be a boy? We still didn't know. I wasn't fearful of the unknown like I had been having Tara, my first. I didn't have the apprehension that came from Stephanie being 5 weeks early. Now I was an old pro. My track record had proven I could do this and I felt ready. And there was just such anticipation and happiness surrounding your coming. I can't explain why, but the sense was – something special was about to take place
Finally. At 7:40 pm, you showed up all on your own (Haha! Dr Wachob!), interrupting a Scrabble game between your father and I, which I am certain I was winning, and everyone in the room said, "Wow, look at all that hair." And just like in Little Women, it has been said of you your lifelong, "Her hair is her…true glory."
At the time, of course, we didn't know that you'd be the middlest of the Rhoades kids. But any excuse anyone ever makes about their life because they are a middle child just doesn't hold water in light of who you are, the place of importance you hold in the family, the example of both servant and leader you display in everything you put your hand to.
What I like about you. I often tell people who wonder: Tredessa is a treasure, full of rare and beautiful gifts. But she isn't obvious or flashy (which is so self-serving), so not everyone gets to see that. But for the person who will take just a moment to look for it, they discover great, great riches and are never the same. You've never needed the applause of many friends, but the friends you have are deep and true. You are one of the most intelligent people I have ever known, but you assault no one with it, only offer it as needed to bless. You listen, not quick with words. You observe, you learn, you evaluate, you discern. Then when words come, they are powerful and life-giving and true. All of your siblings have the greatest respect for you, and their spouses, too. I think that says so much. You are a peace-speaker. The nieces and nephews look to you as a para-parent and their lives are well-documented because of your care in photo-taking and movie-making. You're creative and thougthful (were you 10 when you made dad the Star Wars bookends for Father's Day and he cried?), you're humble and spiritually powerful (I will never forget the night you came in to my bedroom – you a teen-ager, me a mother grieving over a child heading down the wrong path, and you, with great authority, prayed a prayer of faith that caused the enemy to flee). If you weren't my daughter, I'd be trying to figure out how to be your friend – because you are an awesome woman, my treasured Dessie. (pictured: Tredessa, age 6)
The first time we ever got our hands on a video camera, you were almost 3 and I am so glad we have the the footage of you. Given your time to "perform" for the camera, you chose to tell us everything you'd ever learned from the Word of God. Every sentence began, in preacher fashion, with these words: "And the Bible says…" And it is easy to see that those very words represented the foundation of the life you live so selflessly before God today. You have chosen to live your life poured out based on the Living Word of God (Jesus) for Him and for others. Tredessa, you have great favor with both God and man. i know this because I am looking out the back door – the sun has burst forth, the chimes are singing in the breeze, yesterday's raindrops are sparkling like confetti, the flowers are vibrant and the grass is lush. The heavens are apparently celebrating your birthday, too!
I love you, Dess…Mom
NOTE TO SELF: When I grow up, maybe I can be just like Tredessa… (pictured: Tredessa with "her kids" at her home away from home – The Home of Refuge in Venezuela)