Thirty Years Ago

Thirty years ago, we had no children.

Our last childless night changed when Jill knew her contractions were coming closer together.  We grabbed already-packed bags and drove to Miami’s Baptist Hospital: maybe a little faster than needed, hoping this was the one night an officer pulled us over and I could point to my wife in labor.  No such luck.

Two things from labor and the hospital stand out.  My wife amazed me with composure, tears, complete red-face effort, and her humor. She cited most of Bill Cosby’s lines from his monologue about his wife’s birthing(s).

Colt inherited the humor.

The second thing was the hospital nursery.  As people visited and asked which in the nursery was Colt, we only responded, “the blonde”.  Walking down to the glass to view a room crammed with babies in bassinets and nurses hovering over a sea of future hopes, they saw only one towhead in the room.  His standing out like that continues.

We moved to Austin to work on my advanced degree.  We settled on the east side to a great little house close to campus and great public schools.  Colt attended his first birthday party, where I worked in the kitchen with other parents and we all laughed.  He ran yelling and shrieking, oblivious to being the only white kid playing games in the Austin summer sizzle.  The blond.

He was blessed to have older guys be big brothers: Aaron Stern and Josh Taylor.  He took up their mantle for kids in the Stillwater hood.  He skied fearlessly and drew on a quiet confidence.  I saw that confidence as I conducted leader training in Virginia for college students and brought Colt along — the eighth grader.

Two guys led worship (not so great) and one caught something in Colt’s face to ask, “Hey, you want to try?”  Colt silently nodded, “Yes,” calling his bluff.  All stopped.  The student walked across and handed the guitar to Colt and things improved dramatically.  They adopted him for the rest of the weekend.

In college, he thought Claire was stuck up when they both performed in Freshmen Follies and we sat in front of her parents.  Oddly, she thought the same, and four years later they were halfway out of the sanctuary after exchanging vows before 800 friends and family caught on that Clarie’s organ teacher was playing the Theme from Star Wars and

Four years ago we had no grandchildren, but then one night Claire told Colt her contractions were coming closer together.

I have waded far enough into life to drink deeply and watch large life cycles wash over us.  I am wealthy, blessed, overwhelmed, happy.  And I pray he is when Duke turns 30.



Anniversaries and other ordinary days

Thirty three years ago I was dressed in an ascot and long tails.  I felt a little funny, but I was betting that french cuffs and frilly tux shirts in all sorts of colors would die sooner or later.  

I was right, thank God. 

I also had a ton of questions but I was betting on the girl who was breaking out in hives on her chest due to nerves.  I was fortunate there as well.  I had a doctor on call who prescribed beautifully and she was simply resplendent by evening.  And she was nervous because she had been engaged twice to great, godly guys (yes, I like and admire them both) — so how could she be sure?  

That was my job.  I had to be sure for two of us.  I should have had a case of nerves, but have never been smart enough to know when to do so.  God’s grace.

I am still certain.  She is pretty certain, and we are both amazed that we have lasted. persisted, grown, and (whisper this part) still in love.  

Today she sold more art, paid bills, filled out a FAFSA, fed horses, put horses on grass, opened her anniversary gift (for horses, silly) cooked dinner for us all before Brandon heads to camp as a counselor, and packed so we could spend a night in OKC before I preach on Sunday morning.  

I mowed, wrote, worked on class schedules, evaluated a couple of oil fields, memorized a sermon, rode my bike, and watched a movie with Jill.  

It — the work together — is the carbon fiber, spider silk or steel cable of life that binds it all together.  We salted it with kind messages from so many people, cheers, hugging each other, a couple of smooches, dinner with Steve who is finally closing on finishing his commission for the Sheikh.  But the fiber that binds the whole together, that makes the unshakable bond is the work together.  And that work is a sort of dance, like doing the cooking or kitchen together.  

The work is a dance.  You can be where the other isn’t, and work on what she needs next, and do what she doesn’t like to do, and finish about the same time.  

Dance.  Sometimes happy.  Sometimes sad.  Sometimes agitated (mild word rather than expletive deleted).

I like that you can dance when no one is around.  You can dance coyly with everyone watching.  You can even dance at weddings or funerals if you are slow and somber, but the fiber — the work — binds us together, binds us to the Lord of the Dance, and binds us to our time together until it ends.  

Such fetters make us rich.