Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Godfather: Part 1

When you grow up in a strong Catholic household, being asked to become someone’s godparent is something that’s not to be taken lightly. Not only are you responsible for a child’s care in the unlikely and unthinkable event that anything should happen to the parents but you are also responsible for the spiritual guidance and growth of this tiny individual who at this point knows nothing more than boob, sleep and poop. While most godparents abandon their pious duties the minute the squirming infant gets dunked and freed of original sin, there are some that actually stay well beyond the buffet brunch.  Accepting the title is almost as important as making the decision and commitment itself, which is why every parent should consider their choice wisely…

It’s very rare to have a sibling that would literally die for you. Ever since I was little, the only person I could trust whole-heartedly was my youngest sister, Jasmine. No matter what predicament I found myself in, and there have been many, Jazz would be there without a doubt or question. From bailing me out of DUI’s in my wasted youth to standing up for me even when her own moral fibre was being tested, Jazz was and always will be my hero and protector.  Of course our rivalries weren’t short of tears and bloodshed, but there was never an issue big enough that we could not overcome.  

At the back of my cynical mind I kept thinking that her eternal kindness would one day come at a price. I always felt this way about my sister or anyone that showed kindness; mainly because of my resistance to the concept of unconditional love but also because my sister was the kind of good that I could never be. You don’t get something for nothing you know, and even though my sister did more for me than I could ever do for her, I couldn’t help but wonder….would she eventually expect something in return and if she did, would I be as able and willing to say yes? 

“Well, my friend, are you ready to do me this service?” The Godfather came to mind recently when my sister asked if I would accept the position of being Izzy’s godparent. Any normal, rational sibling would have said yes, but in a family full of potential Emmy nominees, I simply said, “can I get back to you on that?” Yes. The look of horror on her face mirrored my mothers. Just another disappointment I guess. 

Here it was. The one thing my sister asked me to do for her and I couldn’t even say yes.  You’d think after all those years of being my personal bodyguard, assistant and in a way, my only true godparent, I would have jumped at the honour. Instead, I found myself questioning her motives. Why me? Is it simply because I was her sibling, or was it because she truly thought me competent of taking on such an important role? How could she entrust me with such an important duty?

I found the situation slightly ironic considering that my sister, a devout Catholic (but also human) would ask me, a fallen angel to take over the reins of her daughter’s secular journey. On the one hand I did not want to disappoint her (which is why I said yes, then no, but yes, then no) but on the other I certainly wasn’t ready to take on such a significant responsibility. I was in a lot of ways still a child myself in need of spiritual guidance, and didn’t feel as if I was in the position to pass down any kind of wisdom, especially when it came to the big G. My over opinionated stance on religion would only end up disappointing my sister as it had our father the day I decided to become agnostic. Surely my sister could see this. Surely she wanted to immerse Izzy in the same belief pools and values as her own? Was she following her heart again?   

After careful consideration and much debate, I decided to decline my sister’s offer. Of course, she did not take it well at first but I know she’ll understand one day.  “No hard feelings”, she said. Well that only made me feel even more wretched for not being able to grant my sister the one thing she had ever asked me. Had I said yes, it would have purely been out of love for her and not the child, who I was still learning to love. Perhaps there was an underlying jealousy, a subconscious envy that my protector had abandoned me in favour of her own flesh and blood. Either way, my acceptance would not have been the right decision. 

My dearest Izzy. One day, you will come across this post and wonder why I could reject the opportunity of being your godparent.  I will tell you because you asked and I will always be honest with you no matter how much the truth hurts sometimes. I know that you are going to grow up to be as kind and beautiful as your mother and I will be there as your fairy godmother to help reinforce what’s important in life.

I’ve never been one for titles but know that I will always be there for you…when a boy breaks your heart, I’ll be there. When some skitch gives you a hard time at school, I’ll be there. When you need a shoulder to cry on, I currently have two. When you and your mother fail to see eye-to-eye, you can look into mine. The love I have for you will be epic because of the endless love I have for your mother and you will be an example of that love. To quote one the best lines ever written: "Always remember: You is kind. You is smart. You is important."     

When it comes to choosing the ideal godparent, should we decide with our head or with our heart?

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