I saw him sitting in a wheelchair in the doctor’s waiting room as I walked in with my shiny new five day old baby girl. He immediately took notice of my sweet girl and commented about how tiny she was. He remarked that he hadn’t been that size in 92 years.
“That’s right, Daddy. You’re 92 years old today,” said the elderly man sitting with him. “Here, let me wipe your chin,” he added as he gently dabbed away the drool that had escaped from the old man’s open mouth.
I smiled and asked the father if he could recall his earliest memory. He said he remembered his house with the dirt floor and picking cotton. Fields and fields of cotton.
“Those were hard times,” he almost whispered. “Hard times. The Depression, you know.” His gaze drifted toward the window and further out to an imaginary field of long ago.
I looked down at the sleeping babe in my arms and in an instant I saw the man as a newborn wrapped in a homespun shawl knitted by his own mother in the house with the dirt floor. I thought about how simple his birth must have been, with no paperwork to fill out or newborn screens to pass or matching i.d. bracelets to deactivate before leaving the hospital.
He continued to talk about how he helped his family out by picking peanuts when the cotton was all gone. In a flash he changed into a 13 year old, just the age of my own son. I saw him barefoot and dirty, but with his head held high with pride in his ability to contribute to the needs of his family.
“You have always been a hard worker, haven’t you, Daddy?” asked the son as he wiped his father’s chin again.
I thought of how the father must have loved and cared for the son so long ago, and now that love and care had come full circle in the son’s gentle attention to his father.
A nurse interrupted my thoughts by calling out a name I can’t remember. The son rose to wheel his father to his appointment and I looked out the window to search for the fields of long ago.
I never saw the fields the old man had remembered and my gaze returned to my wiggling baby. I silently wondered what her life will have in store. Will she be sitting in a waiting room with me some day, wheeling me where I can’t go on my own? Will she speak with pride of helping out her family during hard times?
I silently thanked God for giving me this child whose future is yet to be told.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (JER 29:11)