Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Something New Under the Sun

To celebrate November 23, 2010, the first birthday of my granddaughter Myra Laine, I'm posting an essay I wrote shortly after she was born. All I can add is aptly summed up in this lyric by Marshall Barer from the Broadway show "Once Upon a Mattress."

Yesterday I loved you as never before,
But please don't think me strange;
I've undergone a change,
And today I love you even more...

OK, it's happened to me. I've heard about it, read about it, seen the effects on others, and even wondered what all the fuss was about. Now I know. It's happened to me: I've beheld my first grandchild for the first time.

Myra Laine Layman. Myra Laine, as dainty and perfect as a baby girl can be. Tiny - only five pounds -- with ballerina legs and pianist fingers and a mouth like a rosebud. And I'm smitten.

Her grandfather calls her Zuzu (go figure) and it suits her. Now Zuzu populates my thoughts as I cook ("Zuzu will like this casserole because Zuzu is going to be a girl who loves vegetables"), shop ("Wouldn't that little dress look cute on Zuzu?"), clean out closets ("Zuzu can dress up in this hat"), read the paper ("I have to save this cartoon for Zuzu"), walk the dog ("I'll take Zuzu here and show her this dogwood tree"), and on and on. I'll tell her stories, make up songs for her, dress her up in scarves and pearls, teach her how to bake Challah and custard pie, and read and read and read to her. I'll teach her big words and funny rhymes and how to tap dance and crochet and harmonize.

I remember when my mother saw Myra Laine's daddy for the first time. Just one week old. She flew down from New York to Richmond and my husband picked her up at the airport. She rushed into the house with a hug and a kiss for me, then tiptoed into the bedroom where the baby lay sleeping in his bassinet. She approached him. When she beheld him, I heard an intake of breath, and then she uttered a sound I had never heard before: it was both a sigh and an exclamation of the deepest awe and satisfaction, as if she had lived every day of her life just to see that face and to make that newly-minted sound. The sound of a first-time grandmother. I heard myself make that sound when I beheld Myra Laine.

My husband's respected friend and mentor used to tell him, "There's nothing new under the sun." My husband recalled this the other night as we were talking about our Zuzu. "He was wrong," my husband realized, "Every time a baby is born, there is something new under the sun." A new life to be lived, a new little creature that has never been before, a new being infused with God's special purposes and designs and treasures. For our pleasure, for His glory -- something new under the sun.

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