Saturday, September 5, 2015

“The year you were born marks only your entry into the world. Other years where you prove your worth, they are the ones worth celebrating.” ― Jarod Kintz

About forty-one years ago, my wife and I were expecting our second child and, as we were trendy Los Angelenos, we were going lamaze, of course.  We went through the weeks of training, and I was all set to be the best coach ever.  Karen had been in labor 24 hours with our first, had drugs, and used words some of her more religious aunts had to have explained to them.  She was not going to do that again, and natural childbirth sounded pretty good (and it was all the rage).  So, when the time came, we climbed into our Volkswagen Beetle (we were trendy, remember) and set off for the Kaiser Hospital on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.  I was doing my breathing coaching while driving on the freeway and Karen wasn’t in pain.  We got to the hospital, I got her into emergency and went to park the car.  I came back in the hospital, got scrubbed up and into my little hat and gown, turned around and a nurse put my son, John, in my arms, saying, “Here’s your son.”  What?  I hadn’t gotten to coach at all.  I said to put him back in, so I could put all my training to work, but no . . . that wouldn’t do I was told.  Karen was in labor less than three hours, most of it on the freeway.  By hospital rules, she had to go into recovery with all the drugged out mothers and there she sat talking to anyone who would listen as she was up, happy, feeling good, and a new mother to boot.  Later, we would discover that John had several birth defects (none because of lamaze) like right hemisphere syndrome, disorganic brain function, and a mild form of dwarfism.  He was never supposed to be more than four and half feet tall (he is now 5’6”).  His bones were growing very slowly such that when he was six years old, his bones were only three years old.  He also had ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome.  In the eighth grade he was failing every subject and we were told he couldn’t even go to a vocational school, probably would need institutionalization.  We had him tested, worked with the doctors and teachers, and he ended up an honor graduate from Gravette High School and his name is engraved on a sidewalk at the University of Arkansas where he was graduated with a degree in Computer Science.  He worked as a programmer at Wal-Mart and for the last nine years has been a faithful servant of God working as a missionary here with us in Tanzania.  His well projects, soccer fields, sanitation and hygiene teaching, internet work, computer work with doctors, and now working on a very big solar project has made a huge difference to the churches, schools, and villages here bringing education and solar light where before there had only been darkness.  We are so very proud of what he has done and has become.  Forty-one years is only the beginning for him, I suspect.  He has also taught himself electronics and has been asked to teach at two local universities.  It is a real blessing to have a son that brings you pride, and I have three (all have their names engraved on sidewalks on the U of A campus).  Happy Birthday, John.
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