Saturday, September 11, 2010

Some words from Pop (4th installment)

So, if you've been stopping by here for a decent length of time, you'll know that I've included some of my dad's eloquent words over the past few months. He's a wonderful writer and always seems to find a way to bring beauty, humor and truth to his columns no matter the subject. You probably also know my sweet little sis is off in Germany with her Army husband, and her goodbye was certainly cause for some of dad's words. Here's your latest installment of Words from Pop.

Bonus baby changed the definition of the perfect family

A quarter of a century ago, Jan and I thought we had the perfect family. We had each other, and we had a boy and a girl. John and Laura.

We were so certain that our birthing days were behind us that we gave away all the trappings of infant care. Well, we kept the high chair and loaned it out. It would come in handy one day for grandbabies.

It was 1985, one that marks a sad moment in family history. Having a baby was most definitely not on the to-do list. You see, Jan's mother died in September of that year. Annie Ruth Pulliam had only recently retired from her toil at Thomas Textiel, where she made clothes for toddlers.

She was suffering the effects of chemotherapy that year. It was thus a bittersweet moment to tell her about a grandchild that she would never see.

"Well, how did that happen?" she asked. Given that her son had already presented her with six grandchildren to go with our two, I suspect it was a rhetorical question.

We began assembling the paraphernalia necessary to bring up a little human being. And as we looked around, we noticed a house too small and cars built for four. So we started planning a move.

I'm not sure that many people can tell you the exact date that they moved into their home. We started moving furniture March 7, 1986, hindered not in the least bit by the chimney fire at my parents' house. Saturday, March 8 was moving date.

Sunday morning as I awoke in our new home, I caught Jan looking at the clock radio on a regular basis.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Timing contractions," she said.

"Doesn't look like we'll be going to church today," said I.

We had babies back in the dark ages when ultrasound was reserved for special considerations. We never knew. Boy or girl? Yet, in the weeks before the birth, we had picked out a girl's name, but not one for a boy. So maybe it was no big surprise when Emily Ruth, our "bonus baby," arrived that Sunday afternoon.

The date was March 9, 44 years to the day when Annie Ruth eloped to secretly marry James Pulliam.

For a while it seemed we had misplaced our parenting skills. Three seemed exponentially more difficult than two. And those two will tell you that Emily got away with a lot more than they ever did.

She gave us a scare when she was hospitalized with pneumonia before she was even a year old. But she gave us countless joys too.

Faithful readers of The Oconee Enterprise may remember that I introduced Emily to you last year as the bride whose wedding was moved around about three times to accommodate the Army's schedule for her husband, Jonathan Rupard. They were wed Aug. 8, and he left for duty in Cuba on Aug. 15. What a way to start a marriage.

She visited him in Guantanamo over the holidays, but they only really started their married life as a couple when he returned Aug. 14.

All summer long we have looked forward to his return with mixed emotions. Because we knew that once he got home, it would be just a few short days before they left for his next duty station.

Mannheim, Germany. For three years.

The world is smaller these days, thanks to electronic communication, so it is not like we can't talk and even see each other via the Internet. But the last hug for a while was last Friday, standing in the Atlanta airport, surrounded by luggage and travelers, blurred together by tears.

As a man who makes his living as a communicator, I had no grandiose message as we embraced. Just three words.

"I love you."

Of course, John and Laura are still close at hand, each married. Laura has children of her own.

There was a time when Jan and I would have considered that the perfect family.

Thanks to Emily, we know better now.

Blake Giles is the editor for The Oconee Enterprise. Opinions expressed are those of the writer.


Kim said...

I'm totally in tears and could barely make it through. What a beautiful story of your family and a father's love!

Lindsey Brackett said...

I agree with Kim! This made me cry and thank God all the more that we have a bonus baby, too. Your father is an amazing writer, Laura.

Merideth said...

I LOVE reading your dad's columns, and usually it is through watery eyes, this one is no exception. Thank you for sharing this Laura, and know that your sis and her husband are in our prayers.

Sarah said...

I think you should start issuing kleenex alerts at the beginning of these kinds of posts. I cry enough as it is, so it's really only fair to give us a warning! All kidding aside, this was so sweet. I always love your dad's columns and this was great as usual. Thanks for sharing it with us.