Weeds: Fatherly advice, well taken
(Thirty years ago, middle kid was born. I wrote this “letter” to Abby for the Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch. She just spent her birthday weekend at a wedding celebration on the island of Mallorca, Spain before returning to her job in Guatemala City. I wished her a happy birthday on my phone from the combine cab. I wouldn’t have predicted those things in 1991.)
Pam and Randy Krzmarzick of Sleepy Eye are proud to announce the birth of their daughter, Abigail Ruff Krzmarzick. She was born October 10 at 12:51 p.m. Abigail weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces and was 20 inches long.
My dear Abigail,
Welcome to our family.
Just days ago, I saw you for the first time when the doctor lifted you from the blood and fluid of your mother’s womb in the air of our world. You were a sight: filmy white, blotched with red and pink, hair matted, and a grimace on your face that belied some disapproval at the goings on.
But in that slippery ooze, you were beautiful. Your mother and I will never forget that moment of exhaustion, intensity, and warmth, as our world expanded to draw you in.
Before then, you’d only been present in the bulges and shoves and general mayhem you created in your mom’s body. In the moment of your spinning off from her, as we beheld you, we greeted you with tears. They were for you, for each other, for creation.
Know one thing: that at your birth, we wanted and anticipated and loved you with the trembling core of our beings. It was one perfect gift you will receive from imperfect parents. Know that there was love and carry that with you in times when love is scarce.
Your mother and I are two separate people, struggling to be whole and complete in ourselves. In marriage, we become two abreast. There is, though, one time we become one. It is in the co-creation of life. You are of us in a way you will never appreciate, just as I can’t of my parents.
There is an instinct in us that desires a child to carry on when we’ve passed, just as a tree creates seeds. Maybe its the hope you will carry on our work.
Yet, you are not us at all. You are wondrously unique. You are the only one who will view the world through those eyes and the only one who can do the things you will be called to.
You begin blessed with one essential quality. It is curiosity. God gives each baby a deep well of curiosity; for your survival you need to soak in all that is around you. As I write, you are two weeks old. Already, your dark, piquant eyes dart back and forth searching the source of a light or movement.
I enjoyed watching the curiosity in your older sister. It was nearly insatiable at times, as her perceptions exploded. At first, she trusted taste and touch. Gradually the other senses followed as she drank in stimuli thirstily. And with each new leaf or song or flavor she discovered, I could touch or hear or taste as if it were new for me. I look forward to that with you.
Hang on to that curiosity as long and hard as you can. This earth and its inhabitants are an endlessly fascinating feast if you remain curious and care enough. You will never lack for tonic if you treat each day, each place, and each person as sustenance for your curiosity.
Maybe you’ll have the wherewithal to travel and see this planet and life’s astounding variations. Maybe not. About all I can promise are trips to the Black Hills, the North Shore, and maybe a minor league game in Iowa.
But if you don’t ever actually go many miles, never mind. If you are curious, there are books to take you places. There are people with amazing stories. And there is a world to see in whatever field or woods you walk in.
I’m not sure why, but we seem to lose that as we age. Perhaps it begins when school makes learning a chore. Perhaps we get lazy.
There are things that want to take the life out of us. Beware of these. I sound melodramatic, but I think they exist. Media can do that, filling our head with floss, pushing out room for our thoughts. Charismatic and tempting personalities can do that, telling us how to think and be. They might be the popular kid in school, or later, the political leader we fall behind.
There are other things that can suck the life out of you. Ironically, many start as harmless and good: a cup of wine, a kiss, clothes, a game. Almost any pursuit can consume us and crowd out our self. The life you’ve been given is too precious.
Remember, Abigail, no matter what befalls you, no matter what affliction, there is that deep inside you that is more than your clothes, your job, or your reputation.
That calls to mind another matter. Too soon, you will discover meanness. In your lifetime, that will range from petty selfish acts to horrific deeds. You will even find it in yourself.
I wish I could explain that to you, but I can’t. I’ve yet to figure out if these are aberrations in a good creation. Or whether kindness and love are the unlikely acts in a mean-spirited world. Either way, it is there. It is in all of us, in our humanness. You will know meanness when you give or take it. It will taste bitter.
When I was little, I was told I had a Guardian Angel. This special presence was always near me, protecting me from bad and guiding me toward good. We don’t teach Guardian Angels anymore. But Abigail, when you’ve been hurt or are tempted to hurt another, still yourself. In the quiet, listen for the good. I don’t know if it is an angel whispering to you, but if you sincerely listen, you will hear. Your tiny flame of good can never be extinguished, even in a deluge.
There are traits I’ve come to value in my 35 years that I think would bear you well on your journey. I can share them with you, although I know you will have to learn whatever you become on your own.
Don’t grow fearful of passion. When you are young, you will cry loudly, laugh wildly, and hug eagerly. But like curiosity, the capacity for passion wants to erode. Hang to it. Love God and others mightily, feel pain and let tears loose. Feel joy, let your heart leap.
God does not promise a steady and happy life of pastels. Instead, he offers deep sorrowful blues, giddy yellows, pain in crimsons, and days of vibrant green. Open your eyes to each. But then move on. Life is change. The glow of one color never lingers, nor can we.
Humility is valuable. Take pride in your accomplishments, but don’t become heady. Recognize God gave you the tools you use, and many people have honed them along the way. Give them gratitude and a share of whatever honors you achieve.
Develop a sense of responsibility. It is a burden, but we can’t know satisfaction without seeing the results of what we do plainly. When you speak, know who it affects. When you throw something down, know where it’s going to end up. When you use something up, know how it will be replaced. When you take, know where it came from. When you give, know where it is going.
Never venture out without your sense of humor firmly in grasp. It is an invaluable shield. There is in all of us magnificent potential. In the gap between that and the smallness of our deeds is our humanity. We have that in common, and is at once frustrating, quirky, and endearing. Laugh easily. Enjoy the journey.
In closing Abigail, welcome to life. May you know many seasons. I look forward to sharing some of them with you. God bless you,