Monday, January 26, 2015

The Miracle (of Matthew MacNair)

I was chasing down the days of fear
Chasing down a dream before it disappeared
I was aching to be somewhere new
Your voice was all I heard

It was April of 1999 when it started, the call. The call to riches and glory. The call to something greater than myself. The call to be the official father of the new millennium.

I'm a numbers guy, so I did the math. I knew that the first baby born in the year 2000 was going to have publicity (and free stuff) thrust upon them, and by golly I wanted a piece of that action. The end of March-beginning of April 1999 was when things would have to begin. So... my wife went off the pill, and, well, just use your imagination. Or maybe not. It could get ugly.

God saw through my materialistic desires, however, and conception did not take place in March. Or April. Maybe May? Because at the beginning of June, when my wife's body behaved as a broken typewriter would, we went to the drugstore. Not having any experience with such things, my wife asked the female employee who asked us how she could help us which one she would buy. After a short discussion about the merits of various devices designed to be, well, you know... we walked out with two of them, went home, and underwent the process.

Plus sign. Yeah, we were pregnant all right.

I was young, not dumb
Just wishing to be blinded
By you, brand new
And we were pilgrims on our way

Laura is a small woman, but man, was this baby getting big. I thought it would be cool if the baby was 10 pounds when it was born. I mean, bragging rights, man! 10-pound baby! Not many people are awarded this honor! My wife did not see things my way, however, and let me know in no uncertain terms that a 10-pound baby was not passing through, well, "there".

On January 31, 2000, the ob-gyn decided that enough was enough, and that this baby was coming out now. My wife was admitted to the hospital, and the next morning was administered a drug designed to speed up the process.

Speed up the process. Yeah. Famous last words. February 1st came and went... the first day.

(By the way, ladies, I tip my hat to you. This process is not designed to spare any shred of dignity. Get in bed- undressed- wear a robe that was designed for someone three sizes smaller than you- have it all hanging out while total strangers come and go and poke and prod, I mean. Good God, man, if guys had to give birth the human race would be dead. I thought my colonoscopy was bad....)

February 2nd came, and still, 3cm, that's it. Finally the doctor said the words both scary and magic- "C-Section". The baby was coming that afternoon. It's getting real up in this hiz-ouse.

I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred
Heard a song that made some sense out of the world
Everything I ever lost, now has been returned
In the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.

I was going to miss having the baby be born the old-fashioned way, but coming through a window instead of the door? Cool, man! They had her spread out in what amounted to a crucifix position, a curtain blocking her view, and her belly cut open all the way across with the flap of skin stretched up. I saw her guts, man! You think you know your spouse, but you don't really know her until you see her guts.

And with a little pulling, a miracle occurred. There was a human being in there, a little purple thing bleating like a sheep. The most beautiful sound I ever heard. Matthew Stanley MacNair, the fourth of five generations of MacNair men to have the name Stanley, named after my great-grandfather, my grandfather, and my dad.

Everything I ever lost, now has been returned
In the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.

We can hear you
We can hear you
We can hear you

That day seems so far away now, but the anniversary of that day approaches for the 15th time on February 2nd, a Monday this year, so he'll get the big celebration at school. Not that it matters that much. He doesn't understand birthdays, he doesn't understand celebrations such as these. Autism has robbed us of so many things parents get to enjoy.

But fatherhood has given me oh, so much.

He likely doesn't even understand what I mean when I say "I love you, son."

I say it anyway. I love you, son. Happy Birthday. And many, many more.

I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred
I get so many things I don’t deserve
All the stolen voices will someday be returned
The most beautiful sound I’d ever heard

Your voices will be heard
Your voices will be heard

all song lyrics from The Miracle (of Joey Ramone) by U2

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Guest Blogger: Stanley MacNair

My grandfather was a minister with the American Baptist denomination from 1939 until his death in 1996. One of his practices in his various pastorates was to write a column for the church's bulletin, which he titled "Monday Morning Minister's Musings". After his death my uncle, Mark Leibenow, put together a compilation of the "4 M's", giving one per calendar day, and distributed copies to the family.

Except for a few. This particular one wasn't in the book; Uncle Mark typed it out and gave it to me. It didn't have a title, he just named it "Sean" because, well, it mentioned me. It wasn't about me, it was more about the unity of the family and the unity of God's family, the oneness amidst many unique parts.

And away we go.

In the eight generations that Sean's ancestors (that's what he calls us all!) have lived in this country he can lay claim to 256 grand-parents. Blood lines and genes of 250 people are a part of his makeup. His features are half MacNair, half Finch, but along what pathway came each of those attributes? Why is heinterested in spelling and his brother all wrapped up in dinosaurs? Rhinos I could understand, but why the allosaurus? Something of all that mob of progenitors continues in my grandchildren, and I have no way of knowing who contributed what. But I do know my grandson. He is Sean Lawrence and there is not another like him anywhere. He has, as do you and l, a sense of self as utterly differentiated from any other self.

I, the mob, but I the person. I, eating the bread of communion last week in concert with all of you because we are a part of all whom we have met, of all who contributed to our selves. I, taking the cup alone last week because it is in my solitariness that I meet my Maker, who is my Judge and my Lover. To be the one I know myself to be is to exist as an integer, a whole number, a one. Regardless of what lines meet and cross in me from the ancestors, they do cross in me and I stand by myself.

But I can never escape, nor do I want to, the sense of the presence of all the others, and the workings of the processes of living. I am accompanied along my road by those I never knew and those I did. From my mother who is dead, and from my father who still lives, I am never wholly apart. Absent, they are present. And not these alone. Though I walk through the valley of the dark shadow, fear does not conquer me, because Another walks by my side. There is, as the two mountaineers said after a harrowing climb, a third man on the rope.

A. Stanley MacNair
 est. late 1970s 

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Dear Sophie

Dear Sophie;

This is your friend Sean here. Not sure how much you get on the Internet, or if you get on at all; but sometimes you can meet some really nice people on the Internet. I met some really nice people that are good friends, ladies like Kate and Lisa and Skip and your mom.

Even though I've never met you, we have some things in common. You live in Ohio, and I live in Ohio. Sad things make me cry, and sad things make you cry. It's OK to cry, Sophie. Sometimes when I just don't know the words to tell people how I feel inside, I cry. Sometimes when I'm afraid, I cry. When there are a lot of bad things happening at once, and it feels like it is just too much, I cry.

I've had people tell me that boys don't cry, but you know what? I don't believe that. I don't know if your mom and dad talk to you about God, or if you even understand about God, but let me tell you something. I believe God made us to feel things on the inside. Sometimes we feel really happy, and we laugh, or we just jump up and down and smile. Sometimes we get afraid, or we get sad, and we have this feeling inside like we don't want to do anything. And we cry. But it doesn't last; pretty soon I listen to the Beatles or you watch Frozen and we are happy again. God made us this way. We are allowed to feel things inside.

I'm your friend, and I don't want your mom or your dad or you to be sad. But sometimes things happen that make us really sad, or really mad, and we don't know why they happen. They just happen. And it really stinks, Sophie, it really does. But when those times happen, Sophie, here's what you should try to do. Go ahead and cry. But when you're done, go up to your mom and dad and tell them that you love them, and give them hugs, and then give them more hugs. And they will tell you that they love you, and they will give you hugs, and then they'll give you more hugs.

Because let me tell you, Sophie, you might not believe it, but moms and dads get scared too. And moms and dads cry. But there is always something about smiles and hugs from their children that can help them get up and keep on going until the next time.

You can do this, Sophie, I know you can.

I hope someday I can come to where you live and meet you. Save a hug for me and I'll save one for you. Until then, Sophie, remember: you got this.

Peace and love,
your friend,