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The Gift of Life


Fri, Apr 27th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, December 18, 2000

When the phone rang at three a.m. last Monday morning, my husband Joe sat straight up out of a deep sleep, "Baby time," he said.

With one foot on the floor, he then heard me saying, "Yes, you can dry ginger and black peppers.”

After a pause, I asked the man with a deep accent on the other end of the line, "Where are you calling from?"

"Tanzania."

"What time is it there?"

"Noon," he replied.

After answering his questions as best I could, I lay back down. In my Internet-based business of selling food dehydrators, books and supplies, giving advice in the middle of the night is not all that unusual.

Then a few minutes later the phone rang again. This time, we were both convinced it had to be my son, Eric, or his wife, Shayla announcing they were on their way to the hospital, but again it was the Tanzanian devil. This time he wanted to know how to dry bananas.

Everything had been ready for weeks: the crib, high chair, blankets and most importantly lots of lots of room in our hearts for unconditional love. We had talked with other first-time grandparents about the sheer joy of an absolutely fabulous, beautiful new baby.

The responsibility of being grandparents and passing down our traditions to another generation helped Joe and I acknowledge how influential our grandparents and parents have been. We remembered the cookies, the Sunday pot roasts after church, tobogganing on fresh snow and hot chocolate, the family get-togethers, the stories, and the fishing expeditions. We talked about how going to our grandparents meant there was one safe place, when the rest of the world seemed out of control and scary. They provided the rock, the foundation, and the base that we could always count on.

Since Eric and Shayla knew they were expecting a boy, my grandson has already had an identity for quite some time and I think this has helped all of us to connect with him. The wait was all that was left. One night I dreamed of a little boy standing next to the road with two older Indian men, one on each side of him. Eric dreamed of seeing his son lying in his crib, looking up with open eyes.

Then on Wednesday, December 13th at 10:59 p.m. Hunter Evans Gehrke entered this world. At the hospital, I saw Eric and Shayla instantly bond with this little buckaroo, falling into the role of parent as naturally as one breathes. I was overwhelmed with pride watching the two of them embrace this brand new life. I saw the elegance of selflessness and the loveliness of parenthood. I believe that no matter what a person’s history is prior to having a child; any hurt or wounding is then abandoned. New life is more important and demanding. The real gift is that through them, we have the opportunity to heal ourselves.

In September I said my final goodbye to my Dad. As I stood behind the pulpit, Dad was off to my left, inside his coffin. And though I couldn’t see him, I could feel him. Shayla was sitting right in front of me with my grandson inside of her. Both my Dad and my grandson were real, although I was unable to see either of them.
* * *

Now that Hunter can be seen by all, I invite you to welcome this new Viking into our community.

Mary Bell

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