It’s always fun to get together with your adult children – if you have young’uns just do your job and you’ll see what I mean. This past year we were blessed to have them all here Thanksgiving and all but one here Christmas. After Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant we came home and the kids wanted to play a game called “What Do You Meme?” and, while we weren’t sure what we were in for, we agreed. OMG. Some of that stuff is pretty embarrassing – but more for them than us. To understand that your parents have seen and done everything, well, that changes things. But we had plenty of laughs and agreed to discard cards we deemed offensive. Funny thing, though, they discarded more than Diana and I did. See, they don’t see us as people. They see us their parents. And we try hard to see them as adults, for a simple reason.
Kids are people, too.
I have taken the time after my recent unpleasantness with the pesky mosquito virus to wax poetic (I hope) about the people that were involved in my recovery. I blogged about the first responders and their heroic efforts. The words flowed about the caregivers at the hospital and the rehabilitation facility. I went on and on about friends that supported Diana and did what they could to help. And don’t get me started about the therapists that used their considerable skill to get me out of bed and walking. But I don’t believe I have yet mentioned my four children.
So now I will.
Jeremy came with Diana (it was a special package deal!) so he was always going to be the older big brother, by seven years. He was stuck doing chores while we chased the little ones around, but he would rather be outside with his friends, riding scooters and bikes and skateboards. You know, being a kid. Jennifer showed up next and someone dubbed her Princess Jennifer (Jeremy may have had something to do with it – I think he thought we were making a bit of a big deal over our new princess, er, daughter). She figured it was a good gig so played along. Jamie came out screaming and, if I hadn’t been there and witnessed her birth, I would have sworn we were given an Eskimo baby. She was a handful from day one, full of energy and personality. John was last in the lineup and, therefore, the baby of the bunch. He played that hand well, by all accounts, and was a pleasant little boy except when he was being terrorized by his big sisters. Four kids, all different, all special, all perfect. We were blessed.
So, when I ended up near death they were part of the crew that came to my rescue, and they were the ones who stood by my wife, their mother, in her darkest hour. And not as needy kids, but as grownups, as adults. As people.
Jamie was there the night I had the spasms at home and got to witness her daddy being wrestled by five first responders onto a gurney. And she headed down to the hospital. Interesting side note, she had just shattered her arm in a horrific car accident and was supposed to head back to Atlanta for surgery the following Tuesday. Another side note, she is in her second year of a doctoral program at Emory. So she had some serious juggling to do. With one arm.
Jennifer lives nearby so she made arrangements for little Arthur and then she came to join in the fun. Except it wasn’t fun at all, I’m sure, watching dad linger around death’s door. We have a special bond because I stayed home with her for her first 3 and ½ years. Mr. Mom, house husband, stay at home dad, but a great time. She is a writer now, married for over a decade to Jeremy, has a home. And our grandson Arthur. She had her own bit of juggling to do, albeit with two arms. But one preschooler. Jeremy stepped up to help make sure Arthur was well attended to so, to the best of my knowledge, she could be there every day of my hospital stay. Quiet and observant and, I’m certain, prayerful.
John isn’t too far away so he made the trip down from the ‘Boro. He managed to keep a stiff upper lip but rumor has it he was rooting for me, literally out loud. He’s that way. He found his way to jump in by taking Jamie back to the ATL for her surgery and stay with her a couple days. Then his wife Caitlin headed down to bring him back to town. He also, after the official diagnosis, coined the hashtag #EEEcantkillme. I remember John coming back down (he was in the middle of his own juggling act, changing jobs at the time. And taking care of Murphy the dog.) and watching me do rehab. I noted how challenging it was, and he noted that he couldn’t do the things I was doing.
Jeremy was stuck at his new dream job in California and his wife Karla was in Florida finishing up her art degree. And taking care of granddaughter Sophie. Throw in some challenges with our grandson Tristan in Texas and Jeremy’s juggling act was tough enough without his dad laying in a hospital bed. But he was kept in the loop and, knowing him, I was never out of his thoughts. We talked as soon as I was able after regaining consciousness and he made me know how much I needed to stick around because he had much more to learn from me. I know it was a huge relief for him to come home Thanksgiving and see me in the flesh.
Remember earlier when I said if you do your job right it will be fun to get together with your kids? Well, this was not fun for them. They had to face their fears, overcoming personal challenges, adjust their lives and spend a lot of time fretting and praying that Dad would be okay. Fun is, well, fun. But this was real life, up close, in your face, terrifying. And they all came through like troopers. They did what they had to do, which was serious stuff. They were not “just kids” but adults, grownups. They were people. The Bible says this about that:
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5
I am more than not ashamed. My kids, Jeremy, Jennifer, Jamie and John are the best kids in the world. They are my purpose, my joy, my legacy. Whether I am in this world or move on to the next, I can say that I have left behind some good for the world. They will always be my kids, I have seen them since the beginning, seen their cuteness and all of their qualities, watched them become toddlers and go to kindergarten and graduate high school and college, watched them work through their lives and overcome their faults. But they aren’t just my kids anymore because they have all embraced what is called Adulting now.
It turns out that my kids are people, too.