I believe in the giving of gifts. Not the giving of things—like neckties or fruit cakes—but the giving of the unique gifts with which we are all born, the hard to define “something” we bring with us into this world.
Today is the day of the birth of my grandchild, Tyler Lee Demarest. I knew Tyler was coming into this world before my daughter Rachael told me. Some thing in me anticipated this new soul, this mystery of a person who is now among us. My daughter and her husband have made a place for Tyler, made room for him at the banquet of their lives. They are good people, people who have chosen to center their lives on a family, to give from within themselves the gifts of parenting; love, humor, dignity, adventure—all the wondrous things loving parents can bundle together in the gift of nurturing a new soul.
I . . . I was an absent father, a father who, for a list of meaningless reasons, gave very little to Rachael, else than the part I played in giving her life. I have within me an abundance of gifts, but I withheld them from my heir, withheld them not from greed but rather from a not-knowing of myself, a not-knowing of the nature and value of my unique gifts. Rachael has grown to be a remarkable woman, but she has achieved that without benefit of that which I alone could have given, without, perhaps, some essential essence only I could have imparted.
As I contemplate Tyler’s first day I am humbled by the richness of his person, by the unblemished possibility of him. As he unfolds I hope those who love him will be generous of themselves. Tyler, for his part, has already given me the opportunity to know a bit more about myself, the opportunity to cast around in the belly of my being for something to offer the newborn.
But the gifts we offer need not be profound. The casual but sincere smile of benevolent indifference one offers at checkout at the market—that is a gift. The holding of an elevator door, the choosing not to hear a slur when appropriate, or speaking to it when necessary—these are gifts. Being present in the moment, in every moment, is a gift to those who depend on our counsel, and rely on our native wisdom.
A single sun rises each day, but there are billions of daybreaks. I believe—I know—that when the day breaks tomorrow the promise of Tyler Lee will be a promise I can keep. Each face I see tomorrow will be a face reflecting the renewal of our kind—and the renewal of the need for me to bring forth of myself the offering of a better day.