|This, JR, is the model of my daddy's car. You need to know this.|
Dear John Robert, my newest great-nephew, on the occasion of you being born:
Yesterday morning I waited for the news of your birth. I knew you were on your way, so I kept checking my text messages from your grandmother, the one you call BB, the one I call sister. She told me when your mother started contractions and then stopped. And then she told me when they started again. She told me when your mother's water broke, when she got her epidural, when she was pushing, and finally when she texted 7lbs 5oz I knew you were here at last. In a way I was there through every step but at least I got to sleep and she did not. Then I waited for a picture because I knew it was coming. When my message sounded your face filled my screen and tears filled my eyes, just like they did when I saw a picture of your mother for the first time.
Throughout the day I saw pictures of you and wished I could be there and hold you and feel the joy that was in the air. I wanted to hug your mother and father tight and tell them they done good. I saw a picture of your mother holding you and thought how much she looked like her 7 year-old self in the picture I have of her holding my son when he was born. In my mind she is just a baby herself, too young to have one of her own. Lord, I pray she feeds you.
I even dreamed about babies all night long. One of them was you, but I'm not sure who the others were. Babies, babies, babies, all night long. When I woke up this morning my mind was on babies, and you.
I thought about the fact that you will never know your grandfather, here at least. I think you knew him before you got here, but you will most likely forget that after a few years. I think you will hold him close though, like I do my own grandfather, a man I never met either, at least on earth. I think he must have been in heaven with me too, before I was born. Maybe that is why he feels so close to me.
You had great-grandparents too, John Robert. They would have been thrilled with you. You missed knowing them by only a few years, but that is always the way, isn't it? I never knew my great-grandparents either, but sadly I never really knew their names or anything about them. These things tend to slip away, silently and without warning.
Just remember, John Robert, that you are not the first. There are generations of people who came before you, and each person in that line has something interesting and unique about them. Don't forget they were here. Learn about your history and appreciate its richness. Be proud of who you are and the people who got you here. We are all intertwined in some way, affecting each other whether we realize it or not.
Be good, John Robert, and I don't mean just behave. Be good. Be kind. You have good and kind parents, and they will teach you how to be the same if you pay attention.
What other advice can I give you right now? Let's see: eat your vegetables, keep your elbows off the table, stay in school, just say no and for the love of all that is good and holy never run with scissors. Money doesn't grow on trees nor does it belong in your mouth or up your nose or in your ears. I'll think of more and tell you later.
Be good, John Robert. Be good.