My brother Adam arrived at just about the exact middle of my teenage years. And while he has often heard this story, I heard it as it happened.....in St Joseph's Church in East Millstone, New Jersey with Father Stan who, so far in my life, has been the closest thing to a human being a Roman Catholic priest has ever been, for our youngest brother's baptism.
Father Stan once, some parishoners claimed, suggested during a sermon, 'if you pick a lemon in the garden of love' you could be allowed a do-over. At least that's what the Bishop in Trenton was told he had said-I was there, I didn't hear anything like that but I was at an age where if it wasn't a teenage girl asking to give me her number, I didn't hear anything (I spent my teen years nearly deaf now that I recall. WHAT?). Not even having a lemon-sucking assistant assigned to him as a shadow and probably a snitch back to the big house ever dampened his spirits and enthusiasm..
It was in that state of mind that he brightly asked mom, as we all slowly circled round the baptismal font in the rear alcove to the right as you faced the altar, what her child's name was to be. Adam, she replied, evenly, perhaps a bit too evenly I realize now with three plus decades of hindsight. Father Stan asked about a middle name and learned Adam was to have none. Just Adam, he asked somewhat hesitantly, shooting glances at our father who was silent and stoic throughout all of this, eyes fixed on a point on the horizon somewhere just over the priest's left shoulder and about ten feet from the ceiling.
"Adam," said Mom. "He was God's first and he's my last. You can the pour the water or we can leave." Eventually everyone did both. As one of the children who has changed the world, Happy Birthday, Adam!