“I burst into tears of Joy”: Maisie and the measure of a full life


She was born on a day when I least expected to learn that a Daughter would come into my life.

Ever since then she has reminded me of the depth of goodness there is on this planet.

I have called her by many names in her life.

Baby, May-May, Thumper, Pooch, Girl, Ladybug, Daughter.

Most of all, I call her Maisie.

Her given legal name, Margaret Elizabeth, has never failed to capture her true essence.

She is the divine blend of her two grandmothers.

Funny, opinionated, smart, ambitious, loyal, beautiful, solid, kind, odd, complex, difficult, grateful, devious, cunning, accomplished, gentle, joyful, clever and never boring.


I write this post this morning from The Northern Lights Lodge after learning yesterday that she received a phone call informing her that she had been accepted into the high school of her choice.

Sick at home with her best friend in the world, a dog named Sailor, she got the call she had been hoping, waiting and dreaming for since she first made her decision about where she would embark upon the next chapter of her life after 8th grade.

I wasn’t there when the phone call came.  But, as her Mom texted to me on my drive to The Northern Lights Lodge last night, it went like this:

“I asked Maisie what she did when she hung up the phone after talking to Vis.  She said, “I burst into tears of joy.”

My 14-year-old Daughter does that.  She bursts into tears of joy.

She is, herself, joy.

We live in a world where we are constantly being told it is worse than it has ever been before.

It’s not true but it doesn’t stop those who complain about Fake News telling us it is or those who write about Fake News telling us to believe it to be true.

It’s not. And, I don’t believe it.

Because at my home I have a Daughter who bursts into tears of joy.

Which means, inevitably, there is great joy in this world.

Maisie is no pushover.  She doesn’t take guff from anyone.  She stands up for herself.

More importantly, she stands up for others.

When we began discussions further back than I can remember about where she might go to High School, my wife and I had some specific thoughts in our head about where Maisie might consider going.

I would be lying if the cost of where that might be didn’t cross our minds.

Maisie being Maisie, of course, chose the one with more numbers in the tuition bill than the others we had in mind.

But, what her education costs was not a factor in her consideration even if it might have been in ours.

Her factor was what school did she believe was the right fit for her.  What school did she believe would allow her to work and achieve the best education?  Where did she feel she would have the tools, resources, support and environment that would prepare her for a life beyond the walls of a school.

Maisie did the hard work to understand her choices.  She did the hard work and research to have us understand why her choice was the correct one for the next four years of her life.

Over time my wife and I came to agree with Maisie.  She convinced us that her choice should be our choice.

With a phone call yesterday her choice – and ours – was confirmed.

There is, to be sure, turbulence in the world.  I don’t wear rose colored glasses.  I see the world for what it is and what it isn’t.

Yesterday, even in the midst of a lousy couple of hours for me personally and professionally I know that I live on a planet of 7 ½ billion people and I have no legitimate complaints about where I stand in the order of the quality of my life in that population.

Maisie’s phone call and her tears of joy reminded me of that on a 3-hour drive to my cabin with my head and stomach churning with anxiety, frustration and disappointment.

People ask me why I write so much.  People have always asked me why I talk so (too) much.

I think it’s because my life is full.  And because it is I have to empty what is inside it to keep filling myself up.

That’s a remarkable gift to have in this life.  To never be empty because you continue to be filled with things that make your life amazing.

Maisie is one of those Amaisieing things in my life. (See what I did there?)

One of my favorite pictures of my Daughter – and I have many – is on a little boat during a fishing opener in Wisconsin on the little lake in front of my little cabin.  It was the first time she joined her brother and I for the fishing opener.

Despite her brother’s objections that this was a “guy” thing for just he and I she insisted that there was nothing “guy” about fishing.  Anybody could do it.  Even a girl.  And, more importantly, why not a girl.

She looks at the camera with a clear sense of satisfaction that she is on that boat.  Fishing.  Eating the fishing opener snacks that she and her brother picked out for the morning.

I don’t remember if we caught any fish that morning.  I do remember the three of us sat on that boat long enough for me to remember, again, just how blessed my life is for having the life I had then and the life I had in front of me.

My heart burst into tears of joy.

And, to this day it continues to do so.

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