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Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Graduation Day

By Herchel Newman aka Herm

The first year of our marriage was all honeymoon. By the third year, we had reproduced ourselves on the earth with a son and a daughter. We’d blissfully done our duty. Now seven years past diapers and formula, I was comfortable with our family.

One evening, while sitting cozily on the sofa, and running her fingers through my hair - she knows I love that - Leondra proclaimed, "I feel another baby is in me trying to get out."

"What?!" I blurted out.

"Don't get excited,” she retorted, “I'm not pregnant, but I’d like to be. Wouldn't you love to have another cute little bundle to hold and coochie coo?"

She started showing me pictures of the children during their capture-Daddy's-heart years.

Over the next few months it was - yes, no and maybe so. In order to avoid a maybe night becoming a baby night, something had to be done. The question of birth control came up. Since my reluctance was the tipping weight, I accepted the responsibility to get nipped and tucked.

Still I put off making an appointment. I just couldn’t do it and was too chicken to tell her. She got fed up with my lame excuses. She decided to make an appointment for herself and put this behind us.

Sure, I let her.

The day before she was to go into the hospital, I was playing basketball and tore my Achilles tendon. I came home from the hospital with a plaster cast all the way up to my hip. She summed up the situation. "Well, both of us can’t be laid up at the same time, so I’ll just have to cancel my surgery until you’re back on your feet."

Sure, I let her.

The snows of winter had me trapped inside. There was little I could do, but there was one delightful thing I could do.

Sure, she let me.

Six weeks later, free of my cast and getting around better, I asked if she was going to reschedule her appointment. While running her fingers through my hair she said with a sly giggle, "Honey, I think there's a baby in me trying to get out."

Shaking my head and sighing I asked, "Do you want to talk about that again?"

"Nope! I’m telling you there really is a baby growing inside me."

I suppose what was meant to be, was meant to be. She was so beautiful and obviously elated. She bathed me in a potion of gladness and soon I was bubbling with the same joy. Eight months later she presented me with a magnificent boy. He would be our last child, so I named him End Son without the "D": Enson.

Sure, she let me.

Raised in the ‘50s and turbulent ‘60s, I had a tight, stitch-work ethic and sense of discipline that was in great contrast to the ragged fabric of the ‘80s. Enson became entangled in it - at least that’s the way I saw it.

He liked the loose-knit life, so for him I was a hard knot to unravel. Perhaps that’s why he’d say "Dad, you’ve gotta loosen up. You’re just too up-tight about things." I never would even have considered saying something like that to my father.

No matter the topic: manners, chores, dress, language, you name it, we seemed to be at odds. His mother seemed to always be his doorway out. She stroked his curly hair too. I sought the wisdom of my father.

Dad had a knack for using words to draw a picture to make his point. As children we knew if we had a question to try Mother first for brevity sake. When she would say, go ask your father, we knew it would take a while. He always tried to make us figure out our own solutions.

"Dad, I don’t seem to be able to get through to him. Do all fifteen year olds think they know it all?"

"Son, have a seat," he said while pointing to where. I knew the drill, but I needed answers.

"Son, times change. You have to change with them. The values I taught you have served you well. I’m proud of you."

"Dad, you mean I should just forget about the life principles you taught us?"

"No, of course not. The same values will serve your sons and daughter well. The change you have to make is in the way you teach them. Think of it like this: You’re working with the clay of youth. You have to have a vision and a good touch to mold a man of integrity. Perhaps you’ve been trying to make your man like a stone cutter with a mallet and chisel. Trust me, Enson is learning from you all the time. Take advantage of your time with him by modeling what you want him to wear within, but don’t compromise the principles."

I found in things as simple as raking leaves there was time to share if I raked with him instead of ordering him out to do the job. I still wasn’t on par with his mother though.

On the day Enson graduated from middle school, each graduate was given a white rose with their diploma. We were proud of our baby boy, only I couldn’t seem to turn off the projector in my mind showing our tug of wars. At the end of the services they were dismissed to go give their rose to the one who had impacted them the most during their middle school years. Teacher after teacher rose to receive a flower.

Enson, stood still and looked out at his mother. I turned toward her and the glow of joy emanated the same as when she told me she had a baby growing inside her. Enson, came down from the stage and walked to our row. I stood and stepped aside so he could reach her. I’d never seen her more proud. People close by watched for him to make the presentation and I poised myself to lead the applause.

Enson, stopped short of embrace distance then turned to me. Solemn in posture and sincere in speech he said, "Dad, I want you to have this," then presented the rose.

I choked up and the look on his face made me know he knew I would. I leaned to look over his shoulder. I met my wife's gaze. Would she allow me accept her rose?

Sure, she let me.

(Note: This story comes to mind as I reminisce about my recently deceased father. It serves as an honorarium to him.)

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a beautiful tribute to two wise fathers and a loving mother.

I'm glad she let you, Herchel.

I'm glad she let you, too! Wonderful story!

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