Today, September 16, is the most frequent birth date in America.
I don’t know why, but I’m sure the Christmas season and alcohol play contributing roles. “Oh, Melanie, Melanie, Melanie, in nine days we will celebrate our Lord’s birth…my grandfather made this moonshine in 1938. He left it to me and I’ve saved it all these years. Let us now begin this season of worship.” Or something like that.
Our first child, Jack Edward, was born on this date in 1966. I can’t remember the Christmas season of 1965, but I do know that alcohol was not involved. As Pentecostals, Joanne and I had not yet discovered those wondrous liquids made from grain and grapes. But having been married just three months, I’m sure we were intoxicated by love.
Whatever the factors that led to conception, Joanne woke me about midnight nine months later, “Honey, it’s time.” Minutes later, I drove my young wife very fast across San Marcos, Texas.
Fathers were not invited into delivery rooms in those days. So about seven hours later Joanne’s aunt Veva, who was a natal nurse, rushed Eddie out to the waiting room. She grinned as she handed him to me. I didn’t understand her joy; Eddie looked like he had been thrown from a speeding car. His head was long and horribly bent. Apparently the doctor had once worked in a sheet metal shop. He used forceps like he was straightening a truck frame. I could visualize the afternoon paper headline: “Tragedy in Texas.” But, in the great mystery of human resiliency, Eddie’s head was just fine by the next day.
I was 19 when he was born. In a very real sense, he and I grew up together. At times, he has seemed like a younger brother. I made so many mistakes with him. But he was always so gentle, sweet, and forgiving. And he still is.
He was a happy child. He often gushed, “I’m just so proud, happy, and glad” as he clapped his hands and grinned. He loved his parents, his grandparents, his brother and sister, and…Johnny Cash. When he was five, we took him to a Cash concert in the Fort Worth Convention Center. Although we had cheap seats, at one point I carried Eddie right down to the stage. I held him as we both gazed up at the Man in Black. Dear God, the man must have been fourteen feet tall.
Eddie never got over that. He has been an unrelenting, unrepentant, Cash fan since that night.
Eighteen years ago, Eddie married his lifelong friend, Myra Roachelle. And they have raised three splendid and beautiful daughters. One of the greatest joys of my life has been watching our firstborn come into full measure as a dad; he fathers his children much different, and much better, than I did.
The Bible says that Samuel grew up “in stature and in favor with God and men.” So did Eddie. Like his brother and sister, Eddie found his life reasons and rhythms beyond this place. He has always been a blessing on society.
So, for this and many other reasons, on this September 16, Joanne and I are just “so proud, happy, and glad” to salute our son on his forth-seventh birthday. Son, we love you and we honor you.
We joyfully celebrate the day of your birth.