Our grandson Alex's birthday has always had special meaning to me, and yesterday was no exception. He turned fifteen and, as I do every year on his day, I was reminded of the joy he brought back to our family with his birth.
We had lost my mother just two months before and I was separated by both grief and geography from my daughter as she awaited the arrival of her first child. As her due date approached, I traveled from Virginia to Florida to stay with my dad and fulfill my daughter's request that I be present when she went into labor.
Alex was in no hurry to come into the world. I can remember walking the hospital floor with Dawn at 3 a.m., in an attempt to awaken Alex from a nap he decided to take after labor had begun. It wasn't until the following evening that he finally graced us with his presence. My tears clouded my first view of him but they were tears of joy: for me, for my daughter and her husband, and for the unexpected lifting of my heart at the sight of this tiny, perfect being.
I've been lucky because, except for the first couple of months of his life, he has spent his years within moments of our house; one year actually in our house. And, as he's grown into the young man who never ceases to surprise us with his insights and sarcastic wit, I've gained a treasure chest of memories. He is a survivor, a lover of music and words, and someone who has always reminded me of me because of his quiet manner and introspection.
I don't mean to imply that he's always quiet. He and his brother, Chris, are endless sources of laughter and physical craziness. He isn't the perfect child - no child is, but I wouldn't want him any other way. And Alex's serious side, when he seems to mirror my inner self at that age, touches me and furthers my belief that he is destined to do great things.
So, here's to Alex: I know we celebrated last weekend with you when you came to visit, and we wished you a great day by phone yesterday, but I wanted to add these thoughts before your birthday fades into memory. You were the first person to lift me out of the saddest period of my life, and ever since, you've made my life grander with your explorations of the world that you've shared with me. Your grandfather and I love you and wish for you everything you wish for. Never stop believing in your dreams because you have the brains, the drive and the personality to make them all realities. So once again: Happy Birthday, Alex, and many, many, many more!