“You are a Light in Our Lives”: For Madalyn on Her 17th Birthday

Madalyn Grace Hankins

Our Madalyn turns seventeen today.

As a young girl, Madalyn would introduce herself as “Maddie-Doo.” It just kind of stuck with me, and when she took an interest in art (drawing), it became natural to just start calling her “Doodle.”

And I still do. 

I’m the only one who does.

It’s what many would-be father’s dream of and hope for, right? That there would be a name we might call our daughters that lives between us and recognizes some memory or special attribute of the person? We found it early on. It might irritate her now that she is young woman. If so, she’s never said so. And, if she did, I would let it go.

Doodle. For daughter. It’s not a difficult transition as they are actually synonyms of my heart.

Today, Doodle turns seventeen. Here is a poem drafted this morning in honor of her birthday, a most earnest gift I could think to give. It will be new. It will be in need of reflection and revision. Like our lives. Especially the ones we share together over time. And time to come.


“You Are a Light”


Sometimes, like a candle

lit within a place gone dark

now offered a little light.


Sometimes fluorescent,

illuminating the room

undeniably bright. And present.


Sometimes a flashlight,

aimed underneaths and corners,

beckoning ideas to come out.


Sometimes a disco ball,

turned on, pin-pointing dots

that dizzy and call us to move.


Sometimes incandescent,

you come when called to respond

in the care of another’s heart. Servant.


Sometimes a neon light,

your radiance bends and curves

to present a thought or word anew.


Sometimes a nightlight

lit in the interest of keeping

dreams illuminated and realized.


And, sometimes, a ceiling light

left on after you have already left

reminding us. You share this space.


A light in our lives.

Alight in our hearts.


You are a light.


Happy birthday, Madalyn.

Happy birthday. . .Doodle.

One thought on ““You are a Light in Our Lives”: For Madalyn on Her 17th Birthday

  1. A quick little ditty to join in the birthday fun, but nothing quite as special as the loving poem from her father.

    Dear Maddie at seventeen,
    A reader, an actress, a singer, a star…..
    captivating and growing, brilliant and glowing,
    you light up hearts and rooms with your presence
    We note from afar.

    Your father reminds us
    explains and relates
    your talents, your efforts
    the shows and prom dates.

    His daughter so beautiful
    from inside to out
    we root for you, Maddie
    Happy Birthday, we shout!

    May your senior year be as remarkable as you,
    keep on growing into the person you want to be.
    You have had such a fine start in life with such
    loving parents and brother along side of you!!!

    A facebook “fan” and friend,
    Janet Clare F.

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