Few joys and blessings in this life can compare with those associated with our children. Yes, there are some rough spots and challenges along the way as well. Still, the promise of Scripture about them is the shining truth that overrides even the harshest realities that comprise our parental do-over list. King David wrote, "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward" (Psalm 127:3, ESV). Being the father of Elizabeth Hope and Brian Eliot Holmes has enriched my life in more ways than I can enumerate in this limited venue. Still, a few reflections may approximate the deep inner joys they have brought my way.
That two such different children could be produced by the same parents is usually one of the most surprising elements etched into the margins of my memory. But, there they were, two beautifully healthy babies with contrasting personalities, Liz more like me, and Brian somewhat a duplicate of his mother. Several memories make me a little sentimental this week. Let me share a couple---
My first encounter with our children.
There she was, our little girl having her first hissy-fit, as Harriet called it. She was in the nursery of Wayne County Memorial Hospital, Goldsboro, NC, and I was seeing her for the first time through the nursery window. I thought she was in pain. Her feet were black. After I pounded on the window to get the nurse's attention, I was informed that they had just placed her footprints on her birth certificate. Her crying continued until they had washed the ink from her feet. A dramatic entrance for her daddy. She stole my heart.
Brian didn't make a sound when the doctor lifted him from delivery so that Harriet and I could see our little boy. His eyes were open and he looked steadily at both of us. He took his first breath as he emptied his bladder all over Harriet. Not a whimper or a cry. It must have been a long wait in his mother's womb. Here
Their seventh grade proms.
Liz was so excited because I had allowed her to go on a date before her thirtieth birthday. Her boyfriends parents were driving them to the seventh grade prom. We had outfitted her to kill. New dress, shoes, jewelry, and hair-do. She was a beauty. Her friend Jamie came nervously, reluctantly to the front door. He was wearing a handsome tuxedo, studded shirt and cuffs, every hair in place. When he came through the door to our entrance hall we noted that he was wearing a pair of high-top Converse basketball shoes. Our pictures are a prize.
Brian and a few of their friends decided to attend the seventh prom as a group. We followed his direction in renting a black tux and all the trimmings, cool black Corfam shoes included. He had said they would all meet at his friend Heath's house. So, we drove him there to meet the other young men. When I asked who was driving them, he casually related that they had pooled their savings to rent a long black limousine. Then, he reminded me that he still owed $25.00 on the bill. Thankfully Harriet and i could scrape together the money so he could go. Ever the surprise with Brian.
Special moments that I remember.
When we went to seminary I was still struggling to overcome a two pack a day cigarette habit. One evening, when Liz was around four, she crawled into my lap, took the pack of cigarettes from my pocket and flushed them down the toilet. She said, "Daddy, those cigarettes will hurt you. And, I don't want my daddy to die". I never smoked another cigarette in my life. Habit cured by the sweet words of my little girl.
When Liz was thirteen I took her to dinner for her teenage birthday, a special daddy-daughter date. Harriet and I made it a big deal---new dress, shoes, jewelry, first time make-up, and the works. After dinner at Capri's, an Italian restaurant in Greenvile, I gave her a silver ring. I placed it on her finger and told her to always remember that she was daddy's girl and would remain so until I gave her to another man on her wedding day. When that day came, I gladly gave her to Scott Carpenter. I wept when she gave me that ring back. It's on my key ring to this day as a reminder of that sweet moment. Wow. It brings tears now.
Every Citadel grad will know the special moment when we are permitted to present our child with their Citadel diploma. Graduation day we were allowed to enter with the graduating seniors, sit on the stage with the dignitaries, and present our new graduates with their Citadel diplomas. Brian graduated with honors and this old class of 1971 man beamed with pride at such a memorable honor.
There are many more. As their pastor I was blessed to baptize both of them after their personal decisions to follow Christ. It was also my distinct honor to conduct their wedding ceremonies, Liz to Scott Carpenter, and Brian to Katherine Williams. Brian's death in 2011 was an occasion of great sorrow, and we grieve over his loss even today. But, these two children, their spouses, and now our two beautiful grandchildren, have surrounded my life with the joys of fatherhood. This week I am very thankful.
My prayer is that their lives have been enriched in some degree by the antics and influence of their father.