Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


a year of morning thanks

Just a little braying

It would be silly and thoughtless, even heartless, to rank it ahead of the birth of my own children, but there is a difference. When our daughter was born, I remember being stuck in traffic on a freeway, fifteen minutes from the downtown Phoenix hospital where she was to be born. Stuck--as in "not moving." It was rush hour, my wife was in labor, and we were standing still.

Eventually, we made it.

I was hardly a casual observor at that birth, but neither was I much of a participant. I took the good news in a waiting room, far removed from the pressures and agony of the action.

Our son was born here. I wasn't a participant--are any husbands really?--but I stood beside my wife and held her hand, while the doctor, a handsome, older man with a thick Dutch brogue, went on and on about articles he'd read that I'd written, as if the third person (and fourth) was a fifth (and sixth) wheel. I remember feeling useless, really, almost obstructionist, and I remember the relief when the little toehead was delivered.

Maybe I was too close to the births of my two children to fully value the magnitude--too scared maybe, too worried, too struck with the mammoth responsibilities. All of that, probably.

That's why I say, unabashedly, that one of the great moments of my life was holding my infant granddaughter for the first time. Honestly, I don't remember holding my own children so breathlessly--I wish I did. I know exactly where I was standing in a new house in Lynden, Washington. I know the angle of the sun, the time of morning. And I remember, right then and there, forgiving all of our annoying friends who kept braying about the grandkids and telling me I'd love being a grandpa--I am remember forgiving them because they were prophets in their own right.

Today that very granddaughter, eight years old, does her own hair, her mother says. She has her friends and her sleepovers and cares way too much, I'm told, about her clothes. I'm sure she likes her grandpa, but my stocks are falling, just not precipitously. Our grandson is a whirling dirvish, stand-up comic, but he's got his hockey and kindergarten, and sooner or later he's going to have teeth again after knocking his fronts out two years ago on the frozen snow. He's a kid and only secondarily a grandson.

So, I'm both proud and humbled to announce by way of this blog that my wife and I are going to suffer once again the great joys of grandparenthood. One more time I get to hold a grandbaby. One more time I get to hear my name lovingly mispronounced for two or three years. One more time, I get to open my arms to a smile as wide as a prairie sky. Once more, I get to be the beloved finish line.

I've known it for weeks, but mum's been the word and all of that. Anyway, this morning I'm free to say it, so here goes: This morning I'm deeply thankful that the Lord himself (this child was not in anyone's plans but His) decided to fashion another life in this family. I have no idea why or what tasks this child will eventually be assigned in the kingdom where he or she will live and have her being, but I'm thankful already for her--or him--because soon enough a proud grandpa gets to hold another immense and eternal blessing, in Pampers. Sometimes dirty.

Pardon me for braying, but once again I'm going to be a grandpa.

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