You might recall I posted a couple of my dad's columns a few months back after Sam was born. I have had another in mind but was waiting for the right time to post. As we celebrated my mom's dad's birthday this past weekend, I recalled fondly lots of memories I had from growing up just a stone's throw from both sets of my grandparents. In the last 2 1/2 years, we've said our earthly goodbyes to both of my dad's parents. Both of their birthday's were also in June. My grandmother, affectionately known as Mama Nell, would have been 83 this year. Instead she has celebrated the last 3 birthdays with a host of angels. We mourned her passing a mere three weeks before Jack arrived. I'm guessing she got to see him and hold him even before I did. Here's one of dad's columns that ran about a month before his mom's death.
A Longer Look
I wish you could have seen us.
There we were, looking as grim as 10-year-old boys can look, armed as we are with brand-new six-shooter cap guns, protecting Athens from an injun uprising. My holster is strapped to my thigh. For quick draw, you know.
Laugh if you must, but we must have been pretty effective. I haven't heard of a single injun uprising in these parts since.
Posse work is hard labor, which is one reason we appreciated the cake and ice cream so much. Besides, what's a birthday party without it?
That party was a gift from Mother.
I wish you could have heard her. Mother is driving my brother Bill and I back from Winder to Athens. It's a mere 22 miles, but at times it seemed like it took forever to get back home from visiting grandparents.
"Are we there yet?"
Mother would sing to us.
It was always the same song, an old folk song, "Barbara Allen." It seemed to reach its plaintive climax somewhere between Statham and Bogart.
As I remember it, the last line is this: "And the rose wrapped round the briar."
I always hoped that song would end differently one day.
That song was a gift from Mother.
It's a good thing you didn't see the bicycle wreck. It was not a pretty sight. The plan seemed brilliant. I would ride my bike to within inches of my brother and dodge him at the last minute. I turned right. Only he dodged right. End result, I went airborne over the handlebars, skidding to a skin-ripping stop, palms first.
The painful circumstances called for immediate attention. There was only one person for the job. You know who.
Mother always used Bactine instead of Merthiolate or mercurochrome. The Bactine didn't sting.
The TLC was a gift from Mother.
Maybe you saw my children, scampering across one arena or another while playing volleyball, basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis and softball. Their playing days are behind them, except for Emily, still playing soccer and tennis at nearby Emmanuel College.
You can never convince me that their endeavors in sports did not help them develop into three adults any parent would be proud of.
Mother agreed, which was why she helped pay Emily's tuition to a private high school. That was another gift from Mother.
I wish you could see me. I look good. I'm standing in front of a crowd at church, and I look sharp, if I don't say so myself.
It's the suit. It's gray with a subtle pinstripe. It's cut just right. It folds and pleats in all the right places.
The suit was a gift from Mother.
Not too many days ago we received grim news. Cancer had practically closed her esophagus. The radiation proved unbearable. Life on a feeding tube was not an option. So she is fighting on her own terms.
Each day with her now is a gift from God.
We had a talk a while back, when a different health setback turned our attentions to our mortality.
"I'll look back and say I had a blessed life," she said.
Those words were a gift from Mother.
I wish you could have seen me.
It was a September Sunday in 1950. I've made my arrival. I'm a little early, so I don't even tip the scales at 6 pounds.
I'm in the arms of a 23-year-old Nell Giles who confessed recently that she was frightened by the prospect of motherhood.
With God's help, she mastered her calling. I just hope that the way I have lived my own life has been my gift back to Mother.