Suddenly, grown-ups

Our first child came into this world on a Wednesday in February in Tampa, two days before an annual local parade would have blocked our access to the hospital. I was editor of my university’s campus weekly newspaper, and Wednesday was our hell day, the day we worked our tails off to get the paper out. Our faculty adviser would have to supervise the chaos in my absence. He was a constant critic and a pain. I called him to tell him that Katie had arrived, and he would need to take over the paper that day. What a sweet call that was.

We were on a trimester calendar, and her birth coincided with midterm exams. Of course. But here she came, and what a blessing.

Today, that baby is a wife, mother of two bright and talented daughters, a vice president of a major bank, and a choral singer, active in community service.

Two years later, Barbara Beth made her appearance on a rainy Sunday morning in Fort Lauderdale, where we had landed as I began reporting for the Fort Lauderdale News. When Betsy went into labor, we raced to the hospital, tailgating a police escort on rain-slicked streets. The young cop was terrified that he’d have to deliver a baby in the car.

Today, she is Rev. Beth, pastor of a Lutheran church and chaplain at two elder care facilities operated by her denomination. She is a wife and mother of gifted and highly intelligent son and daughter. Beth is warm-hearted, accessible, politically active, participating with her kids in protest marches. She’s a wordsmith, a superb writer and editor, and an imaginative marvel as a cook.

Evelyn showed up in Fort Lauderdale, two years after Beth did, following a difficult pregnancy. From her earliest days she has possessed a gift of genuine friendliness, engaging strangers in conversation. A talented actress and singer, she plunged into theater and music in school and the community, creating new singing groups in high school and college.

She became a biology teacher at a middle school in Georgia, then switched to drama when the principal discovered her extensive musical theater credentials. Now she presides over a thriving theater arts program, teaching, directing and mentoring her students. She is a wife and mom of two active, brilliant and talented daughters. Yeah, I know, I’m their grandfather, but all six of our grandchildren truly are exceptional. Evelyn’s elder daughter is lighting it up in her drama-rich high school as choreographer, dancer and actress. Her younger sister is a competitive diver and basketball player. They’re both academically high achievers, as are their cousins.

We will get to spend a few precious hours with this loving family later this week as they travel to North Carolina to visit us and the parents of Chris, Evelyn’s husband, who live about an hour from here. This will be wonderful.

Life happens so fast. Sometimes it feels too fast. But along the way, I have learned to make the most of every day, hour and minute of it, and cherish every bit of it.



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