Memo From Mac



The Burlington Hawk-Eye
The Hawk Eye
Burlington, Iowa

Little Sam, It Was A Good Day 
November 26, 1984

We had this appointment for 8 o'clock in the morning, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, to go have a new grandchild. Actually, Sam got here at 8:07.

(That sounds a little weird, I know. But in this age of baboon hearts and gene splicing and frozen embryos, what isn't weird?)

We're really veterans at the grandparent business, this being No. 7. But, I tell you, the old-fashioned way was a lot easier on the grandparents, at least. You know where they call you up next morning and announce the happy news.

But I have to admit this high-tech, scientific way, where the delivery schedule is posted in advance, is exciting. Life in this family, as we've been telling one another for nearly 40 years, is not boring.

Sam's Mom Katherine is a doctor, and so's his dad Terry, and they go around delivering other people's babies the old-fashioned way, with great expertise. But Sam was giving them trouble.

What with one complication and another, they announced at Thanksgiving dinner that the Caesarian section would be on Saturday.

We were in the hospital waiting room at 7:30 reading the morning paper, and when 8 o'clock passed we were prowling the hall and ran into Sam's Aunt Megan, the medical student, who'd served as official photographer for the event.

"You've got a grandson," she announced. "Nine pounds, five and a half ounces." My Gawd, I thought, the kid's half grown. No wonder his mother, who's a little wisp of a thing in this family of hulks, was having trouble. "His father weighed nine pounds, four ounces," observed Peggy from her vast store of maternal knowledge, as Megan led us to the nursery.

Well, he was just amazing plump and rosy, barrel-chested, with sturdy legs and waving arms, as befits a Kentucky mountain man like his grandfather Sam Cole, for whom he is named. His dad came grinning down the hall, to assure us his mom was well and asleep, and to join in the celebration.

I stood there exalting at the start of a life span that could run almost to the end of the 21st Century. I felt the cold chill of all the fears hidden in all those years, and banished it with prayers of thanks for the rich blessings of such rare and robust good health for little Sam's good beginnings.

I'm as new born as you, little Sam, when it comes to knowing what all those days and years hold. But I can tell you about this one day that your eyes are not yet open to see.

It is a day of incomparable autumn beauty, an Indian Summer day such as only comes after the first, deep frosts have stripped the trees, and then the sun brings back an afterthought of summer warmth.

We awoke before you on your first day to find the eastern sky alight with the reds and golds of dawn. The river lay hidden under soft, gray fog, but above its banks, the new sun sparkled on the frosty, still-green lawns. The fallen leaves lay in quiet windrows beneath the empty trees.

Out beyond the town, where harvest is done, the great plows have turned over a black carpet of the richest soil on earth. Above it all arches a cloudless sky of soft and gentle blue, and as the sun climbs and warms the day, the slightest touch of a south wind nudges the crinkled parchment of scattered oak leaves.

It is a day to celebrate, little Sam, as you surely will, all the days of your years.

I watched you in the nursery, clenching your tiny fists, kicking your sturdy legs, and marveled at the miracle of you as you proclaimed to me the meaning of immortality.

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