Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dear World

Dear World,

Are you ready for my Evan?
Are you ready for my fourth child who wears a “Coolest Grandpa in America” sweatshirt?
Are you braced for his wild mismatched socks and even wilder sense of humor?
Are you ready for a young man who can quote any sports stat imaginable, who also named his band after a quote from The Great Gatsby?
Can you handle someone who knows as much about the perfect way to grill a hamburger as he knows about the perfect way to perform a song in front of hundreds of people?
Can you completely be ready for someone who, a couple of years ago decided he liked the name Wolfgang, so he asked people to start calling him that?  And, they did. 
Are you ready, world?
Nineteen years ago, when my husband told a co-worker we were expecting our fourth child, the co-worked inquired, “Oh?  Is this your last one?” to which my husband responded, “No, the last one was the last one.  This one is a bonus.”
And that was true.
You see, the dictionary says the word “bonus” means “something welcome and often unexpected that enhances something that is itself good.”
And all these years later, knowing Evan (or Wolfgang) he, indeed, is something welcome and unexpected.  But nineteen years ago, I couldn’t have had a clue as to how much that bonus baby would enrich my life. I didn’t know how his unique perspective or his funny personality would color my life with the richness of a deep hue I’d never known.
And now that bonus baby is about to share his perspective and personality with you, dear world, via Oxford and Miami University. 
And as I get ready to watch him walk away in those mismatched socks, I realize “bonus baby” may not have been the perfect term after all.  Although the word “bonus” means something wonderful, it also implies something that you could have managed to live without.  And my fourth child, whatever you call him, is indeed, someone I needed for my life to be complete.
So, I take a deep breath and watch my last baby, my Evan, my Wolfgang, walk forward into his (undoubtedly colorful) future. 
And I will watch you, dear world, embrace him.
Please be good to him.
Keep him safe.
And of course, laugh with him.  A lot.
I suspect you, dear world, are ready for this last child of mine.
I know for certain, he is ready for you. 

                                                                 Sincerely – Evan/Wolfgang’s proud mom

Monday, February 03, 2014


      It was the end of September when I saw my cousin at my dad’s 80th birthday celebration. As we had both just started wandering through the complicated maze of our new school years, burdened by the new teacher evaluation procedures, that topic monopolized our conversation.
      We had become teachers at the same time, close to thirty years earlier and had seen proposed changes and complications come and go to the teaching system; but this new system packed with tests after tests for students and task after task for teachers, was agreed to be the most concerning yet. And so we spent our time together discussing this evaluation system and how this year was destined to be our toughest year yet.
      A few days later, she would find out she had cancer.
      A few months later, she would be gone.
      Looking back, I think of so many more worthwhile topics we could have spent our last big conversation on. Maybe we could have remembered summer weeks spent together at grandma and grandpa’s house picking beans and then snapping them on the front porch while listening for the sound of the noon whistle that alerted us to grandpa and his white truck coming home for lunch from the mill.
       Perhaps we could have laughed at how we would race up the gravel driveway, arriving breathless to the end of the apple orchard to wait for grandpa to pull in, lower the truck’s gate and take us on a ride around the orchard while we bopped up and down, certain one of us would bounce out, if we didn’t hold on to each other.
      We might have spent our precious time that day discussing shared secrets, whispered dreams and girlish giggles that filled our youth. We could have reminisced about our weddings, our children, our shared hobby of crocheting which grandma had taught us both during those summer vacations spent together.
     But instead, we spent one of our last moments together lamenting on the dark shadow of the new teacher evaluation looming before us.
      These few months later, I am less a fan of the teacher evaluation system than ever, and I’m sure, had she been here, my cousin and I would have more to complain about today.
     But she’s not here.
     And that fact is enough to wake me up to what is really important in my life.
    This teacher evaluation and all the hoopla that accompanies it is here. It will do what it needs to do and then move on for something else to eventually take its place and sooner-or-later, concern us as well. But I am going to try not to dwell in that shadow of its darkness anymore. There are far more wonderful things to discuss with the people in my life. There are infinitely more precious memories to share as well as make today.
     I guess we all need to be reminded from time to time that we never know when the last conversation we have with someone might truly be the last conversation we have.
    One day I believe there will be a worthwhile evaluation of my life and it will have nothing to do with scales and tests and data. And today, I better understand how I want to spend the precious time I have between now and that ultimate Judgment Day.