Amazing

In the sprint of 1981, a baby boy was born in a small town in North Dakota. It had been a long labor and his mother was exhausted, but she cuddled with him. His father was also tired, but too euphoric from witnessing the birth to sleep. His paternal grandmother was in her car, driving the 400 miles from her home to provide love and support for the new family. All of his fingers and toes counted and the initial cleaning and medical tests completed, the baby dozed contentedly. It was a day of wonder and awe for the family.

As the baby grew, he received regular medical care as recommended. On an early visit to the doctor, he was diagnosed with vertical talus, a fairly rare deformity of the foot. These days, frequent ultrasounds of babies before they are born usually reveal such anomalies, and an examination at birth usually results in a diagnosis. At that time, ultrasound was much less common and the situation was not diagnosed for a short time. Upon diagnosis, the family was referred to an orthopedic surgeon who stressed the importance of treatment before the child learned to walk. A trial of nonsurgical treatment, involved stretching and casting to increase flexibility and lengthen tendons was attempted. Although it was stressful for the parents to have their baby in casts from the diaper line to the end of his toes, the baby adjusted quickly. Subsequently, surgery was required and was successful in realigning the talus. Both feet were done in the same procedure and the casts returned for eight weeks, followed by shoes with braces to keep everything aligned.

Through all of this, the child thrived. He learned a modified army crawl that allowed him to drag the legs in casts and still get around where he wanted to go. He charmed all of the adults in his life and wasn’t limited in his social interactions. He was a calm baby and slept well. Once the casts were off his feet he learned to walk and enjoyed a normal childhood. Regular visits to the orthopedic surgeon monitored his growth and a second surgery was performed when he was in elementary school that kept the bones at the base of his legs and in his ankles properly aligned.

That was a long time ago and physicians and surgeons have learned a lot in that time. These days, the condition would be immediately diagnosed at birth, if not prior to birth. Surgery can be performed as early as 9 months of age and the continuing problems are very rare.

In this case, as the child matured into adulthood, subsequent x-rays of the feet demonstrated the skill of the surgeons and no further complications developed. During one routine followup appointment the surgeon had a small group of students follow him on his rounds and used a series of x-rays from the child to conduct a short lesson on successful treatment of the condition, singing the praises of the surgeon who had performed the initial procedure.

These days that little boy is a father himself with three children. The older two walk and run with great joy and no problems and, after an initial concern of lose tendons in her hip joint, the baby has developed normally and there are no medical concerns. That baby has been walking with support from an adult or by holding her balance against a piece of furniture for most of the summer and had learned to stand independently for quite a bit of time. She was a bit reluctant to take her first independent steps, but everything was working together yesterday and she took three or four independent steps, then did it again and again. Soon she was walking eight or nine steps and was proud of herself and pleased with the reaction of her mother and siblings.

Her father was at work and received the news along with her grandparents via text message. We grandparents posted typical grandparent words of pride and praise. Her father wrote, “My heart is amazed.”

I, being a grandfather, am impressed and delighted with my granddaughter’s walking. I am also impressed with the words and attitude of our son. He is a wonderful father. And he is a poet as well. He has loved words since he first began to speak and, as a librarian, he surrounds himself with books and reading. He takes such delight in his children and I am feeling grateful that today is Saturday and he will be able to spend the entire day with his daughter who will be exploring and stretching the limits of her newfound skill. She is no longer a baby, but has become a toddler. I know from experience of being a father the it isn’t the last time that his heart will be amazed.

There are so many children in this world who, through circumstances not of their own making, suffer from neglect or a simple lack of resources. They grow up in poverty, without sufficient nutrition, and without homes due to war, politics and a failure to share. I realize that the resources our grandchildren have of stability and a comfortable home and loving parents and an extended family and community of support are luxuries when compared to some of this world’s children. But every child is a miracle. Every child is capable of amazing the hearts of adults who will pay attention.

We all need our hearts to be amazed. The joy and purpose of life are revealed in such moments. It is for this that we are alive. It is for this that we live. Human hearts can be amazed by sunrises and the flight of birds. They can be amazed by the grandeur of mountains and rivers or the rhythm of the tide washing on a seashore. They can be amazed by quiet meditation and the practice of presentness.

We are, however, made to be amazed by one another. We are born for relationship. And, by God’s grace we are given that gift. Once in a while we even find words to express our joy.

Yesterday, our son’s heart was amazed by the steps of his daughter. My heart was amazed by the delight, eloquence and grace of our son.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!