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Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I have five grandsons I’d like for you fine folks to meet. Here’s a column I wrote October 15, 2004.

Welcome to the World, Keegan

I’ve told just about everyone, but if you haven’t heard by now, I have a new grnadson. Yep, a brand-new, spanking clean, never-been-used-before grandson, and his grandmother is already trying to decide what position he’ll play on the Indian football team. He’s our first, though I do have three in the Fort Worth-Dallas area. Unfortunately, I don’t see them too often, but this little guy lives only about a mile from us.

And of course, such proximity means that whenever we go anywhere, Port Arthur, Winnie, Beaumont, Nederland, or Bridge City, our route goes right down in front of their house.

Right, all you grandparents?

Named Keegan Alan Johnstone, he was born October 5 at 3:27 a.m. at Christus St. Elizabeth. Only a short six hours elapsed from the time Keegan decided he was ready to take on the world until the energetic little bundle emerged, a real go-getter. He greeted the world as the proud owner of ten fingers, ten toes, two ears, and all other appropriate fixtures as well as sporting a head of black hair long enough to be braided.

It’s been twenty-eight years since I was around a new baby, but I never forgot that a new baby coming into a family creates a more sensitive awareness of just how precious is the gift of life God gives us.

Sad to say, we’re all caught up in the hustle and bustle of today’s hectic life. I think most feel as I that if we don’t stay up with it, life will steamroll over us without a backward glance, and that somehow we will be the poorer for it.

In the midst of a family working two jobs, paying bills, struggling to tuck funds away for an emergency, forced to buy two or three sets of clothing a year for growing children, constantly racing from church to soccer to Little League to football to dancing to whatever, we often tend to become more pragmatic in our approach to life. We find it easier to live more in the secular world where feelings and emotions are shunted aside in a desperate effort just to keep our lives and those of our family on an even keel.

In other words, we, the majority of us, have the tendency to wear a coat of no nonsense practicality that prevents us from enjoying those gifts in life that are truly valuable, that are truly priceless, that cannot be purchased with any amount of money.

And so when one looks down upon an infant sleeping so peacefully (whenever that might be), he realizes the value of those treasures that cannot be purchased with money.

We visited the hospital when Keegan was about seven hours old. I expected to see a red, wrinkled little lizard, but to my surprise, he was pink, and sleeping soundly. Jason, his Dad, pushed the carriage from the nursery to the room where we fussed over him for the next hour or so.

Once or twice, he opened his eyes, but the rest of the time, he slept. When I saw Gayle hold him, it brought back memories of how she had so gently and tenderly cradled our own girls.

When first offered, I declined to hold him, not that I was scared of breaking the little guy, but just because I wasn’t quite ready. And if you asked me why I wasn’t ready, I couldn’t tell you. But, after taking pictures (naturally) of Amy and Jason and Gayle with Keegan, I figured it was time.

I held him for several minutes, but when I tried to give him back to Gayle, I couldn’t figure out how to do it with taking a chance on dropping him, so I carried him over to the bed, leaned over until he was only a couple inches above the soft mattress, had Gayle slide her arms under him, and then, and only then did I transfer him to his Grandmother’s sure and steady arms.

Joyce Kilmer, the poet who died in World War I, wrote the unforgettable poem, Trees. In it, he said “Only God can make a tree.” To paraphrase the memorable line, it is certainly true that “Only God can make a baby.”

In the few nights Keegan’s been on the good earth, I’ve awakened in the early hours and thought about him and the world he will face. I’m not sure what it will be; I only know it won’t be like the one in which I was reared.

But that’s okay. He has two wonderful parents to guide him, and two sets of grandparents for support. The little fella will do well.

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