40 years later, still wondering

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The commercial starts with a voice saying, “we are reflections of those who came before us.” What follows are images on a split screen. On one side, there is a wedding party from the 1950s or maybe 1960s. The other image is a wedding that you might see in 2013.

Then there is a black and white image of a father lifting a child and swinging him in the air. On the other side of the screen, in color, you see a dad of today doing the same thing.

I don’t remember what the commercial advertised, but the message stuck with me, especially this week as I remembered this day 40 years ago. A day that ended with me in the hospital and then in the early hours of the next day, I gave birth to my second child.

That was a time when mothers in labor often got lots of “stuff” to help with the pain of childbirth. Not realizing it was probably not the best thing for my baby, I took full advantage of what the medical community offered.

The consequence of that choice was my sweet baby son also got lots of “stuff” in his system, and that caused him to have difficulty breathing. So, to be on the safe side, they loaded him into an ambulance and rushed him to a bigger hospital in Dothan.

Somehow, in the hurry to get him on his way, they failed to let me see him and hold him. I was so “out of it” from the drugs I didn’t understand what was happening. When I woke up and realized my baby was gone and that I had not held him, I felt panic and fear like I’d never experienced.

Of course, the story has a happy ending. The breathing problem turned out to be no big problem and as soon as my doctor allowed me to travel, I went to the hospital and rocked my baby, and then brought him home a few days later.

I’ve often wondered what, if any, impact that early separation had on my son. I don’t have an answer, but I do know that because of the scare I experienced, when I finally had him home with me, I felt so much gratitude for this child, and I still feel that gratitude 40 years later.

Now when I look at the man he grew into, I am amazed. From the time he was a boy, he was an independent person, always standing in his own truth, not afraid to be different from the crowd. And he is a thinker, a seeker. He wants to see beyond the veil, to know the answers to the bigger questions.

He is a person of both ethics and compassion with a great capacity for love. Something he gives freely to his children, his family, his friends and the assortment of animals in his life.

Music is his joy. When he plays his guitar and sings, there is such a light in his eyes, such happiness in his countenance. He works hard and plays hard and feels things deeply.

I’ve watched him grow physically, mentally and spiritually, and I’ve seen him learn great lessons that were often painful ones. Through it all he held to that strong independent center, dared to look into himself for answers, and never shied away from facing his own responsibility for challenges that came into his life.

He, like his brother and his sisters, brings so much happiness into my life.

If we are indeed reflections of those who came before us, then we carry in us bits of those who gave us life and those who helped us grow to adulthood. And that being the case, my son, Ken, reflects the best of all of those who are part of his history.

I’m proud to know that 40 years ago I brought this person into the world because the world is surely better for his presence here.