The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, April 27, 2003

Lessons From Life

Never underestimate how much a child can understand

THIS story happened 16 years ago. My son is now 22 years old, but when I look at him even as a grown man, I remember the small child with the tears.

We had a female cat who was ready to give birth to her kittens, and like all young children, my son was curious and excited to see the birth of these new babies. I felt he was old enough to view this miraculous event. So I answered all his questions and prepared him the best I could so he wouldn't be shocked or scared.

The night the blessed event took place, one kitten had been born by the time my son arrived home from school. He was so thrilled and amazed at what he saw. He would lay his hand on the mother cat's belly and feel the other kittens moving and awaiting their turn to be born. When the mother cat began to yeowl very loudly, it was clear the second was on its way.

My son watched but never said a word. When the second kitten was born and the mother was busy taking care of it, preparing for the next, my son asked me, "Mommy how come she cries so loud when the baby comes?" In my delight of having my son wanting to view this miraculous event and thinking I had prepared him for it, I had not thought to explain about the pain of giving birth. Not wanting to take anything away from the miracle he was witnessing, I tried to explain to him that it was not hurtful pain but a pain of great pleasure for the mother cat, who knew her babies would soon be born.

When the birth of the third kitten became obvious by the crying yeowls of the mother, I glaced at my son to offer words of comfort if he showed signs of it becoming too stressful for him. When I looked at his face he had tears rolling down his cheeks. So I asked him why he was crying and he looked up at me and said, "Mommy, I'm sorry I gave you all that pain to have me."

I thought my heart had stopped. It was all I could do to contain myself from grabbing him and just holding him close to me but I knew I couldn't have him thinking that his birth was something that caused me pain in the way he was thinking. With a careful choice of words and reassurance, I told him his birth has done nothing but bring smiles to my life and that I would go through it 100 times that the pain meant so little compared to the joy of having him.

He gave me this big hug and then he said, "Mommy I know why the kittens come out that end." I asked him why and he said, "Because the other end has got teeth." I was laughing so much inside, I thought I would burst. The things a child will notice that an adult takes for granted will always surprise me.

My son is a grown man now but he and I always remember that day so clearly and he still says today the memory for him was finally understanding what the word "love" meant. The memory for me was feeling the love of my child as he wrapped his arms around me and gave me the biggest hug he had ever given me. Never underestimate what your child is capable of understanding, or more important, the logic they use to understand what they are seeing or hearing.

"Oh, how I loved her"

(by Hanonch McCarty)

The clergyman was finishing the graveside service. Suddenly, the 78-year-old man whose wife of 50 years had just died began screaming in a thick accent, "Oh, oh, oh, how I loved her!" His mournful wail interrupted the dignified quiet of the ceremony. The other family members and friends standing around the grave looked shocked and embarrassed. His grown children, blushing, tried to quieten their father. "It's okay, Dad; we understand, Shush." The old man stared fixedly at the casket lowering slowly into the grave. The clergyman went on. Finishing, he invited the family to shovel some dirt onto the coffin as a mark of the finality of death. Each, in turn, did so with the exception of the old man. "Oh, how I loved her!" he moaned loudly. His daughter and two sons again tried to restrain him, but he continued, "I loved her!"

Now, as the rest of those gathered around began leaving the grave, the old man stubbornly resisted. He stayed, staring into the grave. The clergyman approached. "I know how you must feel, but it's time to leave. We all must leave and go on with life."

"Oh, how I loved her!" the old man moaned, miserably. "You don't understand," he said to the clergyman, "I almost told her once."

(Culled from the Net)

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