Ode to Keller
This is not really an ode, which is structured lyrical poetry. This really is dedicated to Keller – some of my rambling memories.
For years I have kept scraps of paper with people’s names on it, adding to the lists, scrunching and turning handwriting into the margins until there was truly no more room for my scribbles. These are my prayer lists. The Nepalese hang beautiful, multi-color cloths as prayer flags – mine are not as visually vibrant but still heard. I have neatened up a little in recent times with my growing list of names kept organized in Notes on my I-pad. If you’re reading this, your name is probably on my list! So ever since my boys have been married men, I have prayed for God to bless their own families with babies and, importantly, asked repeatedly for God’s wisdom in the timing. Wow, was that prayer answered so perfectly!
Last summer, after sinking away from us into the disease of Alzheimer’s, Darrell’s mother Laverne passed away. Jonathan and Erica came to town to attend the funeral and before leaving us, they gave us some surprising good news – they were going to have a baby, our first grandchild! Wasn’t God’s timing just perfect on that one? The circle of life was moving in our family. Tears of sorrow mixed with tears of joy!
Having not yet consulted a doctor, they would not give us permission to spread the news just yet. So after waiting the allotted time (I admit that I cheated and helped a few people guess what was on my mind all the time), we hosted a fun, belated birthday party for Darrell at Blue Mesa Grill in Southlake where the real theme of the party was announcing grandparenthood!
Thanksgiving marked a time for more family gatherings. So with an eager group gathered together, Erica treated us to cake ball sweets to answer our next anticipatory question. Blue cake = it’s a boy!
So the months and days passed as I was working through what I had decided was my last year of teaching. The ladies congregated for a lovely shower at the Colleyville home of Dana White and we passed on the age-old tradition of gifts, games and light hearted gossip. The due date approached and we planned our grandparent visit to Austin. My friend and recently retired co-worker, Sara Snell, was booked to be the sub in the middle school math classes for as long as needed and I worked many late hours preparing the lessons for my extended absence. The due date passed and we wondered when the event would actually happen! Finally, the word coming from a scheduled doctor visit was that Erica would be at the hospital to have labor induced on April 17th if birth had not yet happened. We had a date that would be easy to remember since Jonathan’s birthday is the 17th of July and Erica’s is the 17th of August.
Probability lessons in 8th grade math…Jonathan and Erica kept the name a secret but gave us a tidbit, the initials of KB…so I made up a little contest and a fairly complex math problem for my students. What is the probability of guessing the correct name of the baby boy, given that his initials are KB? 2 guessed Keller, 5 guessed Ben, and one correctly guessed Keller Ben! Keller means Champion and Keeper of the Cellar (as in wine cellar) and is the local suburb where Jonathan and Erica lived in their first house. Ben is named after my dad, Benny Kohn.
A tradition at Colleyville Middle School was drawing names of a faculty member at the beginning of the school year – you bring birthday cake for the person for their school celebration. This year, I picked Valerie Kraeg whose birthday was on Monday April 16th. She liked angel food caked with pink icing like her mom used to bake for her when she was a little girl – so that was my plan. Well, my plan blossomed into more than just cake, inspired by our late friend Mike Hyde whose words rang in my mind, “Let’s make a big deal about everything!” The inbox of my email contained an ad from M&Ms candy offering me a nice discount for being a previous customer so I was further inspired by words from a recently popular book and movie, The Help, “You are smart. You are kind. You are important.” I order some pink and white candies for Val that read, “Val is cool. Val is smart. Val is pretty.” The CMS garden club girls helped me make pink and white tissue paper flowers and I decorated the teacher’s lounge on Friday before leaving school for the weekend. On Sunday, I baked Neapolitan cupcakes found on Pinterest and baked an angel food cake, also buying another from Tom thumb’s bakery to serve with strawberries and whipped cream. The baked cake fell because I was in a hurry and tried to put the pink frosting on it before it was completely cooled. Oh well, maybe quantity and creative table décor would trump the fallen angel food. I went to bed content with my efforts.
4 a.m. Monday morning April 16th (Val’s birthday) we get a phone call from Jonathan – they are at the hospital and it is the real thing! We jumped out of bed and started getting ready to leave town. But I had birthday celebration goodies to deliver to CMS – thanks to Stephanie Dulaney for letting me interrupt her regular routine of getting ready for school. She’s the teacher – mate who lives the nearest to me and she agreed to transport all my stuff and set it out for Val. On a beautiful spring morning we hit the road south, maneuvering through all the highway construction of DFW and then sailing on down the familiar sights of I-35 between here and Austin. When we stopped for a break near Georgetown, I walked Tex through a pretty patch of grass and blanket flowers while Darrell got a phone update – dilating and pushing starts soon! We pulled over next at Round Rock because that phone call said, “He’s here! Keller Ben Green, 9 lbs., 5 oz. and 21 inches long. We couldn’t wait to see him!
Arriving at the hospital, we were directed to the labor/delivery room. Erica was there with a nurse, looking quite beautiful, and she sent us on to the nursery where Jonathan was found with his son. Total joy and admiration!
Later we took turns holding Keller, sharing him with Jonathan, Erica, Erica’s dad Gene and her Aunt Georgia, in their assigned hospital room that had a view of the UT Tower. Fireworks were not going off that afternoon, but celebration fireworks were going off in my heart!
Family time in Austin filled our next two weeks as we happily helped with the newborn, errands, meals and household chores. La Quinta also got some extra business as the welcome extended to include meeting aunts and Uncle Travis, Chelsea, Gail, Mary and great grandparents Benny and Sue Kohn. Keller, you brought a brighter light of love into our lives! We look forward to watching you grow and teaching you all the things we consider important.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Psalm 103:13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
Matthew 19:14 Do not hinder the little children from coming to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.