Thoughts on a new life, another place at the table
Last week was quite a week, bringing a flurry of emotion as another generation of Spehars took root in Colorado.
Weston William Spehar became the first of the sixth generation of our family in the state adopted by my immigrant great grandparents and their offspring back in the early 1880s. His parents are my nephew, Ryan, and his wife Sara. Later this summer, he’ll have company when another nephew, Jake, and his wife Lizzie welcome their own newborn.
There’s much to celebrate as our family’s roots extend to another generation.
The reaction of our own kids and their cousins to the fact that one of their own had become parents brought memories of Jake’s arrival more than 30 years ago as the first newborn to my generation. The folks doing their best to manage the recovery room at Denver’s Rose Hospital weren’t quite ready for the band of us, led by the forceful new grandmother, who burst in, anxious to see the still-groggy mother and, just incidentally, our new nephew and grandson.
As with Weston, Jake’s arrival sent a signal to the rest of a generation. Suddenly there was more to consider than late-night music at the old and then still-shabby Oxford Hotel and other smoky venues. Camping trips and other outings took a little more planning. There was responsibility for needs of that little person in addition to personal desires. With Jake’s arrival, life took a more serious turn.
My son used his Facebook page to congratulate Ryan and Sara. “They win the baby race,” he posted, bringing memories of the fact his own parents were the first of their generation to marry but finished well out of the money in that “race.” My warning is that the rest of Ryan and Sara’s generation may want to speed things up if they’re to avoid our predicament, which will be cashing Social Security checks to pay college tuition while the rest of our peers make final payments on vacation condos.
Viewing new life and another generation from the far end of the parenting timeline is interesting.
“You’re never done being a parent,” my 90-year-old mother reminds us over and over as she continues parenting her own kids, the oldest of whom will be eligible for Medicare in about eight weeks. Her first stop upon returning home last Friday from an extended visit to the Front Range, was to hold Weston William and celebrate becoming a great-grandmother.
Sometime after visiting the newest member of the Spehar family last week, this time in a quieter hospital setting, came a more poignant realization. In a couple of months, both sets of new parents will take their new children to Crested Butte, where this love affair with Colorado all began for the Spehar family more than 125 years ago.
There, the sixth generation will be taken to visit to the peaceful cemetery overlooking the Slate River valley where the first generation of Spehars are buried not too far from Ryan and Jake’s fathers, my brothers George and Tim. They’ll be sheltered by the house the second generation raised their family in and visit acreage that fulfilled the dream of another set of second-generation ancestors to set down roots that still bear fruit.
The symbolism, that life goes on, even renews, through triumphs and tragedies, is important. There are some other lessons, borrowed, not original, that I’d offer.
From my friend Terry Farina comes this quote from Hodding Carter. “There are only two lasting bequests we can leave our children; one is roots, the other wings.”
Which means Ryan and Sara and Jake and Lizzie will someday be where their parents, our generation, now stand, a time best expressed in the conclusion of a wonderful piece another friend, writer George Sibley, wrote about his own daughter in the April edition of the Mountain Gazette.
“It is both a proud and forlorn moment for a father,” George wrote, “to realize that, somewhere along the line, after your years of tending, extending and pretending to lead, show, set examples, et cetera, your offspring have sprung off into some totally new and unanticipated arena of life, where you are only going to be able to watch from the near edge, wondering that the hell they are doing — and marveling as they do it.”