It became apparent at a very young age that Abby was a singer. She had the uncanny ability to hear and learn a song from one of her inane children’s television programs after just one or two viewings and singing that song almost to perfection. It was cute the first few times I heard her sing the theme songs of Barney the Dinosaur or the Teletubbies. The cuteness quickly faded away in each case.
One evening Mitch and I were watching the news at their house while waiting for Mary to call us for dinner. The kids were down the hall playing in their bedrooms and singing their favorite TV songs. It wasn’t long before three-year old Abby was singing about those horrid Teletubbie creatures, causing me to moan in mock agony.
“Good Lord,” I groaned. “Does she sing that all day long?”
Mitch quickly perked up and eagerly said,”No! As a matter of fact she recently learned something new. Would you like to hear it?”
Rolling my eyes, I asked, “What is it? Something new from Barney?” My disdain for Barney had become legendary after a short stint of watching Sean while Mary and Mitch went to church. The only thing that gave Sean any peace of mind while his parents were gone was watching VHS tapes of Barney & Friends. My hatred for that purple dinosaur still exists after more than twenty years.
“Ohhh, no,” Mitch assured me with a grin. “I’m pretty sure you’ll like this.
“Abby!” he called. “Could you come here, please?”
“Okay, Daddy!” Abby answered. Within seconds she came running down the hall with the agility and eagerness of a two-month old puppy dog, coming to an awkward halt face-to-face with her father who was lying down on the couch. “What, Daddy?” she asked.
“Abby, sweetie, do you think you can sing your new song for Thad, please?” Mitch asked of his youngest child.
Abby, without a word or a second of hesitation, spun around and started into her new song. “Da da da, da dada, da dada! Da da da, da dada, da dada!”
A proud tear came to my eye. This little girl I had the blessing to call “goddaughter” just sang for me Darth Vader’s theme, “The Imperial March”, to perfection. I wiped the tear away before anyone could notice it. I pulled my darling goddaughter in close to give her a hug and to thank her for her bravura performance. She gave me a sweet little hug back and then strutted back to her bedroom singing the song all over again.
Mitch looked over at me to ask my opinion. “It was… it was a thing of beauty,” I told him. “How and when did she learn that?”
“Last weekend I was watching The Empire Strikes Back and Abby sat down to watch it with me,” Mitch began. “She heard the music once and started singing it.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that,” Mitch answered.
“Impressive,” I told him. “Most impressive.”
“I had a feeling you would like that,” he said before getting off the couch and walking into the kitchen to see if Mary needed help with anything.
Down the hall I could hear Sean and Maggie loudly complaining to Abby to stop her singing. Abby paid them no heed and kept on singing her new song louder and prouder than she had sung it for me. I sat and listened to this budding Dark Lady of the Sith and sensed in her a kindred spirit, someone I could mentor and mold.
The next weekend I started my plan to make Abby my young apprentice when I joined my adoptive family at church. The plan unfolded shortly after the service and went exactly as I predicted:
1. Sean and Maggie asked me if I was coming to their house.
2. Mary asked me if I would like to come over for lunch.
3. I accepted the invitation.
4. Sean and Maggie squealed with delight.
5. Sean and Maggie asked if they could ride in my truck, the real reason they wanted me to come to their house. (This practice continued into high school and beyond for all three kids. By then they were more interested in my company than a ride in my truck.)
6. I answered that they could.
7. While Sean and Maggie debated whose turn it was to ride with me, Abby climbed into the truck with no care of whose turn it was to ride with me.
8. Sean and Maggie screamed that Abby always rode with me.
9. Mary and I told them that Abby doesn’t always ride with me (she actually did) and determined whose turn it was to ride with me.
10. Maggie got in the truck when she determined it was her turn to ride with me.
11. Poor Sean got in the family car with Mom and Dad.
The drive from the church back to their house was a short one, so I wasn’t as concerned with the child restraint laws as I probably should have been. The two munchkins were buckled in and happy as otters. It was time to hit Abby with the next step in my plan.
“Hey, I have a surprise for you,” I told the girls. In truth, the statement was meant for Abby. The two of them eagerly inquired the nature of the surprise. I pressed the power button on the radio which had “The Imperial March” cued up on CD. Their little faces lit up when the music started. Abby joined in song.
“Good,” I told Abby. “Goooood.”