About the Boy’s Birth Day

I had just returned to the VRBO where I was isolating when my son called.

“Are you watching the vote count?” he asked.

“Not yet,” I replied. “I just got back from the hospital.” Our daughter Shelby had given birth earlier that morning. It was her first child and the first of the grandboys to be named after my father; and the first time I could not actually be with one of my daughters while they were giving birth. Thanks to a worldwide pandemic. I hadn’t even actually been allowed inside the hospital. I’d met my son-in-law in the hospital parking lot to get the updates and to deliver a Starbucks order.

The day was already difficult because I couldn’t hug my daughter or hold our grand. I could only pray that everyone’s health would be protected and no one would catch the virus that had already killed millions. I’d cried of course, tears of relief and of a tender place that is always a memory away from a river of sorrow. Whenever a life event happens I am reminded of all that Daddy missed out on. His swollen traumatized body in repose in that flag-draped coffin at an age younger than Shelby was when she gave birth to his namesake.

This day -January 6th – will be forever intricately linked with my grandson and my father, the great grandfather he will only ever know through story, the same way his own mother knew of Daddy. Shelby is named after my mother. Her son is named after my father. Poetry is the border to our stories.

Even if I live to be a hundred I don’t suppose I will ever move beyond being that nine-year-old girl staring into that casket at the first dead person I ever saw. Most of the time I consider myself lucky to have been that age. I knew my father, knew the timber of his laughter, his good-humored nature and his loving ways.

I’ve met people in my life whose fathers were mean, selfish bastards who thought of no one but themselves. Men who ‘ve cheated on their wives and ignored their children, or worse, abused them. Men whose only concern in life is their own wants. I’ve even known professional men who use vulgar terms when referring to their own daughters. Men who think sexual assault is not only their God-given right, but their duty. I know children who pray to have a different father, one who really cares about them, the way mine did me.

Thankfully, for the bulk of my life I’ve been surrounded by men like my dad: Kind-hearted men who consider dignity and integrity to be far more valuable than any riches the world has to offer. Humble men who don’t shy away from working hard, rather they find meaning in it. Men for whom family is their everything. The men who were with my father the day he died said he begged the doctor to not let him die because “I’ve got kids”. He was one of the few in the unit with kids. Most of the soldiers were just a few years out of high school.

I really am a lucky girl but being my father’s daughter has made me one of the luckiest. He set the standard for what it means to not only be a good man, but the best sort of human. And all my life long I’ve found community among the best sorts of humans. People who care for one another, who care deeply even for those they don’t personally know. People who are leading lives of a quiet dignity and doing their best to create a better world for everyone, not just themselves. I even have extended family made up of such people.

Which is why when I hung up the phone that day and switched on the television and came across the sight of men scaling the US Capitol building like chubby cockroaches, I was gobsmacked. I stood in front of the big screen, my jaw ajar, watching as they began to tear down the US flag and replace it with one touting a thug of a man.

That flag that had covered my father’s casket was tossed aside as copious cockroaches fought their way inside the US Capitol building in an effort to overthrow the government. They threatened to hang the vice-president. As capitol police sought to protect Legislators, these cockroaches beat them with flagpoles, with fire canisters, with their fists, with the butts of the guns they carried. Some dropped their drawers and crapped on the floors of the Capitol. They broke windows and they broke hearts. They trampled one of their own to death. They jeered as another was shot. They hunted legislators, intending to do harm should they find them. They were animals of the lowest nature. Cockroaches, each and everyone.

But it is the tearing down of the US flag that draped my father’s casket and replacing it with one of Trump’s that I will always remember.

Nothing solidifies for me more their devotion not to God or country or even their own integrity, but to a man who lies to them each and everyday. A vulgar, vile, vain man who has spent a lifetime in pursuit of that which money cannot buy and which he will never possess – Dignity.

My grandson, at age three, is already more of man than Trump will ever be. Like his grandfathers before him, David is good-natured and kind-hearted. He loves music and learning and being a friend to everyone. He laughs at himself with the ease of a humble man and delights in the laughter of others. He has big emotions that flow from his big heart. He loves his family, adores his brothers, and never wants to sleep for fear he’ll miss out on something fun. He’s adventuresome and loves being outdoors, and cheering on the OSU Beavers with relentless devotion. He fills our hearts with untold joy and gives the bestest hugs. And like his grandfather, he is a beautiful soul inside and out. Because he was born on Epiphany and on such a historic day for this country, I know he is going to grow up to be a man who will lead an honorable life. Happy Birthday, David!

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.


Suellen Carson

about 5 months ago

Thanks for sharing this. I really enjoyed reading it. Your grandson is a doll.


Candace Boleyn

about 5 months ago

Well done, well done. I pray for our country and for people to vote with a clear mind that will keep us all safe.


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