My nephew Jonathan Harris and His wife Jennifer welcomed their first child, Alexander James Harris, into the world yesterday -- 8 lb. 10 oz. 21" arriving at 2:50 P.M. Mother and child are doing well. The verdict is out on the father.
Our family has been blessed with generations of wonderful people. I attribute it to my mother’s and grandmother’s prayers. My Dad often said he was proud of his children. If he was speaking to Jimmy and me he would add “You boys never caused me any trouble.” For years I just swelled with pride when he said it. Later, I wondered exactly what he meant by it. A couple of years before he died I got the courage to ask. He responded, “Well I never had to bail you out of jail.” It suddenly dawned on me I could have gotten by with a little mischievousness and still kept my dad happy. Staying out of jail is not a very high bar to set.
On occasion Dad would also exert, “I think all of my children are good looking.” His eyesight was good but his sense of aesthetics was a little off. When the grandchildren began to arrive that observation shifted to them and became more frequent. His sense of aesthetics was improving.
Jonathan and his sister Christina are my baby sister Darlene’s children. They always lived closer to Mom and Dad than the other three grandchildren. Mom babysat them when they were small and that was a great source of frustration for her. She absolutely loved being with them but she was determined to love all of her children the same and all of her grandchildren the same. I once exhorted her to relax on that front and enjoy Jonathan and Chrissy, take them places, do something special with them. It wasn’t their fault Shirley and I lived far away. She insisted she could not do more for one than for the other. I have always been thankful for my mother’s commitment to equity, but I have also felt bad that she may have cheated herself and them of some wonderful memories.
My perception of Dad was that he never struggled with equality. He just loved and enjoyed. He let Mom keep a ledger of monies spent on Christmas and birthdays. That was easy, he let her worry with buying all the gifts anyway.
I have chased this rabbit to make it clear that my parents loved all of their grandchildren with an equal love. Having established that fact beyond reasonable doubt and with hopes of not offending anyone, I offer an opinion that Jonathan had a special relationship with my Dad. Mom said he reminded her of me when I was young, following Dad around helping him with his various projects. It has always given me great pleasure to think of Dad and Jonathan together. I know Jonathan filled a special place in his life and that he enjoyed his youngest grandson’s company very much.
Jonathan is a rare young man: responsible, hard working, faithful, dedicated, etc. He is well respected and well liked by all who know him. He’s a lot like my Dad. (Of course Darlene and Thurman have been the primary molders of his life – why do I feel like I am walking through a familial minefield here?) And he has persevered through some major challenges in life, most profoundly a detached retina that required multiple surgeries and left him with impaired vision in one eye. Jennifer is an equally blessed and stellar person. I have liked her since the first time I met her.
I remember well the days when my children were born. I felt like I was walking on air as I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. With Alethea, as the firstborn, all of that weight was amplified by the uncertainties; where’s the instruction manual, the on button, the off button? It is exciting to see young couples go through that same euphoria blended with anxiety.
I am thankful for Alexander James Harris. He is going to bring so much happiness to his parents and grandparents. They are going to be renewed as they watch him grow and learn. It thrills my heart to imagine him playing and working with Jonathan and Thurman. I am excited for Jennifer and Darlene as I know they will soak up the simple pleasure of his presence in their lives. Finally, I am full of hope, as his birth is a promise that the Kingdom is on its way, the best is yet to come.
February 13, 2010