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TALKING TO MYSELF: 8 December, 2012 Paul Prather is one of the best religion columnists I've run across. His observations appear in the Lexington Herald-Leader every few weeks, often when I'm about to tilt off course and lose my way. His words grab me by the shoulders, and say hey, listen up, stop and think with me a few minutes. Today's column, however, grabbed me by the heart. [This link may or may not be live: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/12/07/2435537/paul-prather-reminders-of-my-... - if it's not go buy a paper!] I was in tears by the time I was through reading. Maybe this is because I have a grandson named Hudson, also, or because I had a grandfather -- Gran Hudson -- whom I adored as much as Paul did his. Maybe it's because it's December and my bones, like Paul's, are hurting too. Whatever the reason, his column reminded me of an essay I wrote several years ago when our Hudson was born. In this season of gifts, I am reminded that the best gift is recyled--love passed hand over hand, from one generation to the next.
Hudson Alexander Brown, two days old, came home on the first day of spring. He has the look of a reasonable boy about the eyes. At least, we were able to talk some sense into him when he took a notion to get born in mid-January.
“Look,” we said. “If you have a choice, you shouldn’t pick a birthday two weeks after Christmas. People are tired and broke then, and in Kentucky old man winter can dump a blizzard on your party without so much as a warning on the 11 o’clock news.”
Right on cue, an ice storm shut down the state and over a million people lost electric power. He took our point.
Nevertheless, he tried an end run again in February.
“Have you considered that this is the height of the flu season,” we reminded him as the doctors gave him steroid shots to strengthen his lungs. “If this were the Olympics,” we went on (as we are wont to do) “you’d already be disqualified for using performance enhancing drugs.”
But he was only teasing us, he claims now, and in the end he had the last laugh. He was born only a few days before his due date and weighed a whopping nine pounds six ounces.
He is our fifth grandchild and our third grandson. He is his parents’ second child.
Being a latecomer in the family lineup can be an advantage, we tell him, can take the pressure off, and give him space to develop his game at his own pace without all of us second-guessing his every move. The coaching staff he’s inherited has improved over time, too.
True, his grandfather and I are not as peppy as we were ten years ago when our first grandson was born, but we have the benefit of experience now (and we also have a better camera.) Even his parents are more relaxed and confident than they were two and a half years ago when they brought his sister, Annelise, home.
“Remember who you are,” I wrote when she was born, reminding her that she was born into a family that recycles love and enduring values from generation to generation. Lest her brother ever be tempted to forget who he is, his parents have given him a name that will remind him. The Hudson is for my mother and her people, the Alexander after his father. It’s a big name with a lot of history for both sides of his family, and I think it fit for a governor – or at least a rock star.
Or a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker – I don’t really care, Hudson, as long as you become as good a man as you can be. I’m hoping you’ll be the sort who doesn’t laugh when others fall down; who doesn’t get mad and quit trying when you lose at something; who doesn’t pitch a fit to get your own way regardless of the cost to others.
On this spring morning, I’d give you world peace if I could, prosperity and the moon thrown into the bargain, and a world free from cancer. I’d give you happiness every moment of your life.
But I know I can’t promise to deliver on any of those gifts. I can only try to teach you to live in personal peace, to prepare yourself to earn a living, to reach as high as the moon though it may exceed your grasp, to lead a healthy lifestyle. I can’t make you happy, but I can encourage you to learn how to make yourself happy.
I can promise though – as I did to your sister and your cousins – to remember who I am as I commence my peripheral role in your journey to adulthood. It is I who must not forget the wisdom, the strength, and the love passed hand over hand from one generation to the next.
So happy birthday, Baby Hudson. The gift I bring to your party may be recycled, but it’s the best I have to give. I give you what was given to me.
©COPYRIGHT GEORGIA GREEN STAMPER
Excerpt from Butter in the Morning ©Copyright Georgia Green Stamper