Welcome To The World

October 27th, 2011

The room she was born in was bigger than our first apartment – in fact, the bathroom was bigger than our first apartment – and this room was furnished with mood lighting, sleeper couch, big boy recliner, several close friends, a couple of families and a medical staff. It was a party in there with a bed in the middle and an incredible sound system blasting out the heartbeat of the soon-expected guest of honor, and everybody was on the beat.

Less stainless steel and cold white tile, more wood and warmth. Less stressed mothers, less clueless fathers. No less of a miracle, just one better understood.

Compare that to how and where your children were born a generation ago. Compare that to the stories your parents tell of how you were born a generation before that.

Don’t tell me we haven’t come a long way, baby.

As published in The Daily News, October 28, 2011, and in The Memphis News, October 29-November 4, 2011

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She looks like me. She looks like her other grandfather. And both grandmothers. And her parents. And both aunts. And a little like Buddha, a lot like Winston Churchill, and a bit like Mike Tyson. And she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve seen since her daddy was born and her aunt before him.

She looks like promise.

Last week, our first grandchild, Campbell Boone Conaway arrived in Memphis, meeting life, light, family and friends for the first time with squints, squeals, whimpers and wonder. When I last saw them that night, Campbell’s tired and smiling mother was pulling on a revitalizing Sonic slush and looking on as Campbell’s quietly awestruck father gingerly held their merged lives in his hands.

All systems were go, the slush ice blue but the baby bright red, this grandfather uncharacteristically silent but the baby healthfully vocal. And all things are possible.

She gives me pause.

She is and always will be greatly loved, and I pause wondering how slashes to programs that have even the smallest chance to bring even a fraction of that love to those born without it can be so heartlessly pursued.

She will be supported, encouraged, educated and cared for in every possible way, and I pause wondering how a society can consider the absence of all of those things in a child’s life to somehow not be that society’s problem, the tragedy in the making not that society’s fault.

She gives me hope.

Unlike the spinners and the spun, the talking heads and the empty-headed echoes of their followers, who constantly tell us we’re handing our problems to our grandchildren, bankrupting another generation with the failures of this one, I’m not buying.

If we broke it, Campbell is going to fix it, not just stare at the pieces like we’re doing lately. If we spilled it, Campbell is going to clean it up, not cry over the mess like the baby she is now and the way we’ve been acting for a while. If we didn’t talk to each other, Campbell is going to start conversations and get grownups to get over themselves and act like grownups.

When my parents were born, automobiles and airplanes were novelties, and radio didn’t exist. When I was born, television was a novelty, and rock ‘n’ roll didn’t exist. When our children were born, computers smaller than freight cars and the Internet were novelties, and cell phones didn’t exist.

When Campbell was born, we received that information via a texted photo simultaneously blowing up on smart phones all over the waiting room, then posted online, and tweeted and emailed from those phones, laptops and tablets within a couple of minutes of her birth.

Campbell’s generation isn’t going to stand still, looking over their shoulders at us and negatively accepting what we left. They’re going to move forward and take us to positive places we’ve never been.

Let’s make sure we raise them that way.

I’m a Memphian, and my granddaughter could change the world.


Peggy Ingram Veeser: Dan, Congratulations to you and Nora! What a great tribute to a new granddaughter. She offers us all promise, pause and hope too! I know it was thrilling to be a part of a major life event. love to all, Peggy

Elizabeth Glasgow: What a beautiful piece - let's be sure to raise them all that way!

Janis Paul: As a grandmother of a Memphian baby girl, your comments touched my heart and soul. Yes this generation will solve so many problems and encounter many that we can only imagine. I pray that the unconditional love and affirmation I as a grandparent give my little granddaughter and 2 grandsons will in a small way give them a little bit extra to know that they CAN do it.

caroline nave: Dan, this gives me hope.

Carole Rodgers Hanna: Look at that fine head of hair! This little girl is going to bring much joy to you & your family. I'm very happy for all of you.

Ann Sullivan: My grandson Cole and Campbell may get married someday and one of them may become president. These children will carry us on to even greater heights. I believe in them just as you do. Congratulations on both your grandchild and what you have written. I am with you all the way.

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