I began to think of my journey the other day that started with a hello to my new grandson Aiden and goodbye to an old friend Kenny. I drove about five hours to the hospital in Houston to see the newest member of the Sumner family. I went to the hospital room and I was greeted by my daughter-in-law, Manisha, and my son Danny. Danny took me to the natal care unit where my grandson Aiden was laying, surrounded by machines and a small baby blanket. As I gazed upon my newest grandson I was once again amazed by the miracle of birth. Before me was a perfectly healthy and beautiful baby. This was Aiden’s first day of life and after counting all the toes and fingers I found him to be perfect. I have had this experience before with some of my other grandchildren. And each time that happens I am amazed at the miracle of childbirth. Selfishly I know that the DNA that I have carried from my forefathers will be carried onto my grandchildren. I’ve experienced the miracle of birth many times. Besides witnessing the birth of my sons, I’ve also witnessed the birth of babies that I was not related to. I remember being a policeman in Los Angeles and assisting in the birth of a child in the backseat of a car. I also remember answering the radio call only to get there in time to watch the newborn come into the world. I do not care how hardened you are, these experiences will make you emotional and amazed. I was able to sit with my son and his newborn son for a while. I was there when Aiden took his first bit of nourishment from a bottle. At this time Aiden was still in a special care unit and his mother was downstairs anxiously waiting to hold her baby. These are the times in my life when I feel very positive about life. I expect that Aiden will grow up and live in a different world than I did. But I also hope that he will live a life as full and wondrous as my life. He will have a great start in the fact that his mother and father are there to help guide him through life, supported by the family around him. It was a thrill, an honor and an emotional moment for me to meet and say hello to Aiden.
The next part of the day was after I left the hospital and was about to begin my trip back up to my home in North Texas. I made a decision to go and say goodbye to an old friend of mine. This is something that I’ve been meaning to do ever since I retired and moved to North Texas. At the time of my retirement I was not a happy person. Whether it was true or not, I felt I was not needed and was not used in my job. The job had recently been merged with another organization. The leadership that I began my job with disappeared and I found myself working in another environment. I was allowed to keep my job but continually felt like an outsider. It was my decision to retire rather than just stay in a place where I was neither wanted nor used. The problem with that is I left without saying goodbye to some really good people. One of those people was Kenny Speight who I considered my friend. The fact that I had not said goodbye really weighed on me for a while. But then I realized that I needed to reach out to those people I considered close and tell them what they meant to me and say goodbye. This void haunted my thoughts for over a year. I had not been down into the Houston area for over year and therefore did not find the opportunity to say goodbye. I found the opportunity this time and before heading back home I went and saw my friend Kenny and said thank you for being my friend. This wasn’t like when somebody knows that they’re going to pass on and are saying their last goodbyes. This was just the opportunity to tell Kenny how much his friendship meant to me and that it was important to me to say goodbye.
Many of you will have had the experience of leaving a job or neighborhood. And during the last days you would go to your friends and neighbors to say goodbye. Most would say they would call and visit you down the road. All of this is done with the greatest intentions. But the reality is after you move or go on you will most likely lose contact with those friends and neighbors. Each time you move to new job or new house you will get involved with new people and they will take the place of the friends you had before. This is not to say that you do not think of your old friends, but life goes on. It is common to lose contact with those friends of the past.
In my case, I had moved on but it haunted me that I never said goodbye to Kenny. So in one day I was able to say hello to my new grandson and goodbye to an old friend.