Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dear Joseph,
You may just think that family is Mom and Dad. While that is true, but it is not the entire story. Don't forget that there is Grandma Sharon, Grandpa Michael, Grandma Linda, Great Grandma Miriam, Aunt Tammy, Uncle Ben, Uncle David, etc., etc.. The list is getting big, isn't it?

I point this out to you because, as you grow and learn, you will belong to many groups. Perhaps you will be on a team. You certainly will be part of a school class. You may also be part of one or more clubs, and so on. These will be groups of people that share a common goal or interest, and they will be a great source of support as you pursue those goals. As long as you pay your dues, attend meetings and adhere to the bylaws, you will be allowed to remain a member of each group. With family, it is a little different.

Family is forever. There is no need to sign up, and meetings are held when ever. What ever your dreams and goals may be, family is there to support, give advise, scold and even drive you a little nuts. Thing is, there are no dues and few bylaws, and you remain a member even if you break the rules. Now, here is the really neat part: it is a life membership and, no matter how you might screw up (and you will), family will love you and come to your questions asked.

Right now, you are beginning to see what I mean. As I type this, Grandma Linda and honorary Grandma Robin are in your city. Uncle Omari, Auntie Tammy, Uncle Ben and myself will be coming in another day or two. Why? Because it is your birthday, your very first one; and the family gathers on such occasions to celebrate with one another.

To be sure, there will be times when you will want to quit or resign from the crazies in your family. Happens all the time. Thing is, Joseph, we don't accept resignations. Try as you may to quit, we will not stop caring about you and loving you. So, take the bad with the good, and enjoy your first chocolate cake this weekend.

Happy first birthday. I love you.


Friday, May 23, 2008

And So It Goes
Dear Joseph,
It is just a few days until your first birthday, and the entire family is excited and looking forward to gathering at your house to celebrate. It is supposed to be a very happy time, and it is. We just learned, however, that Grandpa Michael's cousin just died, and that makes us sad.

By time you are able to understand this, you will have some idea of the cycle of life and the fact that life is full of happiness and sadness. But, Joseph, there are different kinds of sadness. I will try to explain.

If a very young person is accidentally killed, it is a tragedy, and the sadness is mixed with bewilderment and even bitterness. A young person has been robbed of his or her life, and we are unable to understand why such things happen.

In the case of Grandpa's cousin, on the other hand, we have what I will call a more understandable death. The man, who you will not remember, was a fine person and a very nice individual. I liked him and don't know anyone who didn't. But he had had lots of illnesses and had lived a fairly long life. He got an infection in his lungs and never recovered. His loss saddens us all yet, at the same time, we can accept this loss as a part of life.

I have no idea when I will leave this life. I don't know if I will be here when you can read and understand this. I hope so. But, if I am gone as you read this, know that I had a long and most wonderful life. Perhaps Mom (my daughter) will show you pictures of me and tell you stories about me. I would like that, and it makes me feel good to think I will be remembered. Know, as well, that part of my greatest joy in life has been having you as my grandson and that I have derived a deep inner joy from your presence. You are a blessing in my life.

Be well,