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Still blessed by a springtime birth

Mar 21, 2013 By Betty Starks Case

Don't I realize I've written about our springtime son more than once in this column?

Yes. But the column rarely appears on March 21, as he did.

I may also have been advised not to write about him.

This year, however, I may "slip a cog" in both cases. I may mention something about him that pops into mind. It can happen when I remember that the column does indeed appear on a birthday that heralds spring in our lives - like the swelling green buds, birdsongs, and crocuses, daffodils and violets peeking out to remind us of life's eternal wonder.

Years ago when I wrote about our son, I received a phone call from an excited reader exclaiming, "That's my son you wrote about! You described him perfectly! How could you have known?"

Do you suppose there's a "mother" complex here? Psychological transference, perhaps?

Actually, I appreciate the odd response. To me, it means I can now write whatever I wish. The reference could be to some other woman's son.

So the story begins like this: When a nurse first placed a healthy 8-pound, 11-ounce boy in my arms, I squealed, "He looks just like me, only more so!"

To this day I can't explain what that meant.

If by chance he does understand some of the things his mother says, you can see why. He received his first lesson in gobbledegook the moment he was born.

Fortunately, he didn't continue that mode of education. Instead, he was a fun, mischievous, eager-to-learn little boy. And like many children, clearly more intelligent than his parents. In many ways, he taught us.

We'd never been parents before.

Don't children always teach adults how this old world looks through new eyes? And wouldn't we be the losers if we missed the opportunity for a fresh view?

I've always been a bit awed at this man's understanding of life on Earth.

To me, he carries a reverence toward life in all its forms, unlike what is seen every day by many of us. It's an attitude that makes me want to be more sensitive to all creation lest I overlook some of the wonder.

His pets come from the animal shelter, orphans that need a home become teachers and liaisons to the natural world, where interesting and challenging learning experiences present themselves.

When house-cat Jessie brings in a bat, or a bird, or a mouse, or whatever, the wild creature is carefully caught in a towel or a harmless trap and released to its familiar outdoor realm.

A seemingly insatiable need for learning keeps him in book stores for hours. I'm always amazed at the variety of subjects that grab his attention, from a non-stop study of geology to the intricate miracles of the human body, to the most creative fiction. And more.

His work of many years involved helping others, always with encouragement to better their situation with education where possible --¬a GED in some cases, and a college degree and governor's award for a young welfare recipient whose story of success I later read in Reader's Digest.

As a mother, do I wish I could do some things over in this man's life, you ask?

Yes. But I wouldn't make the changes in him.

I'd make them in me.

Mostly, I think, I wouldn't give so much attention to what I thought he needed to know. Instead, I'd ask him more often to share information he brought with him from creation's center. And we'd both learn.

Like most parents, years of life experience bring us the wisdom we could have used much earlier.

Such a time warp can be one of regret.

And yet --¬maybe parent and child are meant to grow in learning together, whatever their ages. Some believe the experience may be intended to weave strength into a bonding for eternity.

We wouldn't want to deprive ourselves of that, would we?

One of the most treasured things we've heard about our son came from his wife who, after nearly 24 years in the family observes it like this: "His dad taught him to know the wonders of nature; his mom showed him the beauty in it all."

That, I think, makes this springtime birthday come together just as it should.

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