Today, my baby turns 28 years old. Jane Hillary Couto was born on November 4th, 1980 at 10:07 in the morning. And just like today, there was a very impressive and interesting election going on. By the day’s end, Ronald Reagan would be elected 40th President of the United States of America. Maybe all the time I spent reading about the candidates and listening to the pundits influenced Janie in some way… as years later, Jane would choose American History as her major and graduate from Brown University. It will be exciting to see who will be elected President on this, Jane’s 28th birthday!
It is a spectacularly beautiful day here in Rhode Island today… just as it was 28 years ago as we waited for our new baby to arrive.
Janie was named by Barry and me long before she was even conceived. I remember talking to Barry one night about the possibility of having another baby, and we both said, almost simultaneously, “If we have another girl, she will be Jane.” Jane means “God’s gracious gift”… and she is that and so much more. “Hillary” means “cheerful one”… and she is that, too. Janie has brought such love and joy and life and laughter to our lives… and blessings upon blessings. Janie was born to be our baby! Each time we even considered having another child, it just didn’t seem right!
Janie was that little girl who lit up a room with her presence. She loved to talk. And dance. And sing. And entertain. She developed elaborate “shows” with Audrey… and she often asked us to pay for admission. Yes, a baby entrepreneur! Janie had silky blond hair that curled majestically at the ends. She had magic blue eyes that captured your heart. And she had the singing voice of an angel. I thought for many years that Jane would pursue a theatrical career… but when she discovered the success of athletics, she never turned back. Janie, at a very early age, became a competitive swimmer. She competed at the local level… then went on to regional and New England competition, and even has the honor of clocking a national top 12 relay time with 3 other 11-12 girls on her team. Jane loved to compete… and only gave up competitive swimming when she discovered distance running in high school. Jane had fabulous success at running, and is now training to run a full marathon. Jane has always set high standards for herself, and she lets absolutely nothing stop her from achieving her goals.
What I love so much about my Janie is that she LOVES what she loves. She doesn’t tip-toe into anything. She immerses! Take Cherry Zero Diet Coke, for example. Jane will drive miles and miles for one bottle of her Cherry Zero. Don’t tell her… but I bought 28 bottles for her last night. They should last for about… oh, a day! Janie loves certain sneakers. Particular ravioli. Ice cream. Salad dressing. But she loves all dogs. Jane has always had a beautiful rescue side to her that makes my heart too big for my body. I love this about my Janie… and I can only hope that she feels how proud I am of this character trait.
Conversely, Jane disdains certain things. Like gum. No-one is allowed to chew gum near Jane. In or near her car. In the same town or city or state or country or continent. Jane hates gum (and gum wrappers) that much. Just ask anyone. Jane also hates it when you talk on your cell phone in a restaurant. Or store. Or sporting event. Don’t try it… please.
Janie has always been my little bundle of love. She was a snuggly little baby, and she is a snuggly adult. She has the quickest wit on earth, and her smile is dazzling. Jane is generous and kind and warm and wonderful. From the moment I knew I was expecting, I knew how very blessed I was. Back in those days (!) we learned the gender of our babies at the very moment of birth… and I will never forget how my heart soared when my obstetrician announced, “It’s a girl!” Jane was a 7 lb. 6 oz. bundle of pure joy… with her blond fuzz peaking through her little bald head. One of the nurses asked, “What’s her name?” And from the moment I said “Jane” and held my little baby girl, I felt like the luckiest Mommy alive. Jane is my gift. My baby gift. And even at 28, not a moment passes that I don’t count my blessings to have Jane in my life. She is beauty. She is grace. She is precious. And thank God she is my baby.
Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday my beautiful daughter… I love you, Janie! Your smiles and your dancing eyes and your laughter and your love have given Daddy and me an anchor to life!