Molly Erin Dougherty came into the Dougherty family on March 14, 1985, at Wichita General Hospital in Wichita Falls, Texas.
As her mother and I walked from the parking lot toward the hospital entrance, we met some friends we had known when we lived in Vernon, Texas. They told us they had just had a baby, and we told them that we were about to have our second child.
We checked in at the front desk, they showed us to our room, and then they sent me back downstairs to fill out paperwork. That took about 20 minutes, and when I returned to the room, one nurse said, “We thought we were going to have to come get you. This baby is ready!” She was born a few minutes later.
Molly has been that reliable ever since.
The main thing I remember about her early days is that she was fearless. We had a square wooden coffee table in the living room when she was learning to walk. She would leave the comfort of someone’s knee and start moving toward the table. Sometimes she made it and sometimes she lunged forward, falling face-first into the side of the table. She would come up laughing, sometimes with a bloody lip. Then she would try it again.
A few months later, we enrolled her into a toddler swimming class at the public pool. By the end of the week, she was the star of the class, as far as the instructors were concerned, because she would go to the end of the diving board and plunge in, face-first. Eventually, she started looking before she leaped. She still takes chances when necessary, but she seems pretty level-headed about most things and no longer leads with her face.
When she was a toddler, her older brother, Patrick, then 4 or 5, had to spend the night in the hospital after a playmate stuck a plastic tent pole down his throat while Patrick was swinging on a backyard swing set. The ER doctors did what they could for a minor laceration, but kept him overnight as a precaution. Molly wandered the hallway at home, wailing, “Patrick … my Patrick” again and again for a couple of hours because she missed her brother.
Her sister, Megan Kathleen Dougherty, is more than two years younger. When she was old enough to joke with, I started telling Megan how she actually has an extra middle name because when she was born, we were expecting a boy and her mother and I never finished our “argument” about what her middle name would be. After she was born, the nurse asked “what are you going to name her?” We both said, “Megan” and then laughed as we realized that we never had agreed on her mother’s choice, Kathleen, or my favorite, Flynn, as a middle name. The next day we each offered to “give in” to the other, but I told her to go with Kathleen. So I joked with Megan that her full name was Megan Kathleen Flynn Dougherty. But then Molly, who was 6 or 7 at the time, wanted an extra name, too. So she became, within the family at least, Molly Erin Siobhan Dougherty. That was fine with her, and she even worked hard to learn to spell it and pronounce it. Later, the girls teamed up to try to tell their older brother that he had to have an extra middle name, something Irish, preferably, but he wouldn’t bite. He said “Patrick” and “Dougherty” were Irish enough.
Molly, whose eyes are hazel like mine, always was envious of her sister’s blue eyes. She was telling me about it one day in the car, and I explained that some people called our color hazel and some called it green. Then I asked her what she called it. She said, “I call it blue.”
Molly is loving and kind and usually the one who remembers someone’s birthday or anniversary. In fact, the only time she ever got into trouble was when she was about 5 and saw that one of her parents had left a $20 bill on the mantel. She decided that she could buy everyone nice Christmas presents with that money and took it and hid it in her bedroom. When the money turned up missing a day or two later, she came in wailing with a tearful confession. She swore she would never take someone else’s money ever again. Too my knowledge, she hasn’t.
One of the more impressive things she did as a pre-teen was come to me a few months after we had moved from Wichita Falls to Mansfield, Texas, and tell me, “Dad, I know that I cried and cried when you told us we were moving, and I didn’t believe you when you told me that someday I would be glad we had moved. … Well, I just wanted you to know that you were right and I love my new school and all my new friends.”
Let me tell you, folks. I was much older than 10 or 11 before I ever admitted to my parents that they had been right about something.
I did enjoy Molly’s tale of her early political discussions with her new stepfather before the presidential elections back in 2008. She is a good Democrat and wasn’t impressed with Randy’s arguments in opposition to Barack Obama. I think they’ve learned to avoid politics since then.
Molly is a 2003 graduate of Mansfield (Texas) High School and a 2007 graduate of Austin College in Sherman, Texas. She lives in Austin, Texas, and teaches kindergarten in Taylor, Texas, after a stint as pre-K special education teacher in the same district.
Molly and Megan always have been close. As a teenager, Molly became involved in a regional youth board within the Presbyterian church, and eventually, she got Megan involved. Molly decided to attend Austin College, despite the fact that her boyfriend at the time had chosen Tulsa University, also a Presbyterian school. (I was proud of her and Ryan for realizing that such a decision should not revolve around young love.) Megan looked at a couple of other schools when her time came, but eventually, she joined her sister at Austin College. Megan lives in Dallas and works a sales territory out of Fort Worth, while Molly has the Austin-Taylor commute going, but they rarely go more than a few weeks without seeing each other.
My oldest daughter is engaged to John Bucy III of Austin. They are getting married in July on the beach in Aransas Pass, Texas. Yes, we are looking forward to the trip.
But today, she is 28, and we are proud of her.
Happy birthday, Molly. We love you.