• Matt Keyser

Happy first birthday, Emery!

Dear Emery, It’s the night before your first birthday and I’m struggling with what to write. Your mom is scrambling around the house making sure all decorations are set up and the house is nice and tidy for your birthday party. “That will be a cute setup like that,” she said as she finished setting up a table near the back window. “Yep! Yep!” “Girl Down in Texas” by Josh Abbott Band is playing in the background, which is fitting because since the song came out I’ve said it’s your perfect song because you can replace the chorus:

“There’s a girl down in Texas in love with me” with “There’s a girl down in Texas named Emeryyyyyyyyy” Listen to the song. You’ll hear it. Promise. That doesn’t take away from the fact that tomorrow is your FIRST BIRTHDAY! How?!? It’s not that I feel like we just brought you home from the hospital because that seems like an eternity ago; it’s that we’re all starting to fall into a groove—you, your mom and I—and that you’re already turning one. You’re still supposed to be our little girl, but you’re already talking—dawg, Dad, Daddy, the occasional mama—and walking with the help of the walls and couch like your life depends on it. It just doesn’t feel real. You’ve honestly been the perfect baby. You eat like a champ, sleep at least 12 hours a night, and aside from the occasional fussiness, your mom and I have no complaints. You’ve come so far in such a short little time, my girl. I remember being home with you and you couldn’t even roll over from your back to stomach. Then one day out of nowhere you rolled no problem. Then your mom and I swore for weeks that you were on the brink of crawling and finally on Christmas Eve 2017 you army crawled with purpose in your bedroom. It felt like a historic moment at the time, but it would soon be trumped with you learning to stand up and walk along the walls and whatever you could get your hand on—walls, the couch, the diaper pail or cabinets you love to open and peek inside. Now your mom and I swear that you’re days away from walking on your own. (You just need the confidence to do it is all.) Not only do you walk everywhere, but you’re a chatterbox to the extreme. You love to say “dawg” and “dad” and “dad-dy” and “hello”—though it’s more “oh”—with the occasional “mom.” You love to smack your lips, as if you’re giving a kiss; chase the puppies around the house; doing chores, like pulling clothes out of the dryer or emptying the dishwasher; or playing in your room by yourself, but only sometimes. What you really love the most is eating. You’ve been to three day cares in your first year and each one has said the same thing: They wish all their kids ate as well as you. Not only will you eat an eight-ounce bottle, but you’ll crush a slice of pizza, oranges and a jar of butternut squash. Do you remember that night your mom, Auntie Christa and I went to Carrabba’s and you ate so much you gave me a look like, “Dad, why did I eat so much?!”


There are so many memories this first year I’ll never forget: the slow-drive home from the hospital, the first time you laughed or the first time you pointed at Abbott and said “dawwwwwgggg.” Your mom and I love you so much, and we can’t wait to watch you grow and see what life brings your way. Know that no matter what, we are forever here for you. And know that every time that Josh Abbott Band’s “Girl Down in Texas” plays, I’ll be singing, “There’s a girl down in Texas, named Emeryyyyyyyyyy.” I love you so much, Little Miss. Happy first birthday! Dad

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