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Child’s blessings continue to grow

POSTED: November 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.

This is another one of those Tevye the Milkman weeks for me.

Tevye was the central character in the classic musical "Fiddler on the Roof."

He laments, as he does often in the play, about the passage of time and how his daughters are now grown up.

In what seems like a moment, that little baby that arrived 18 years ago is not a little baby anymore.

Somewhere around 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, after spending all of the day in labor, it was time. The doctor and nurses had done this a thousand times.

I hadn't.

About 20 minutes later, the baby started making its debut.

"Look at those shoulders, Harris, I believe you've got yourself a linebacker here," said Dr. Thomas Jenkins as the baby was about halfway out. A short time later he corrected himself. "Better make that a cheerleader."

She was red and a bit fussy that someone had taken her from the comfortable confines of her mother's womb. I went over and said hello.

In fact, I had been talking and singing to her while she was still in the womb. She seemed to react to my voice. It was magic. I was in love.

I can remember looking over at her mother. She looked as only a woman who has given birth can look. It's a combination of exhausted and relieved.

The nurses cleaned the baby up, wrapped her in a blanket and presented her to her mama. Something incredible happens and the exhausted look goes away.

The birth of Ashton Elizabeth Blackwood is deep in my mind the way words are etched on granite. I pull that mental image out every now and then and dust it off. If I ever begin to lose my memory, I hope it's one of the last things to go.

There's a lot of things in my mind that I wish I could forget, like four years later when her mother and I decided that our marriage didn't work.

But there are far more treasures of the past 18 years than there are sorrows. Like any father, there are things I would like to do differently. But that's not going to happen and that's water under the bridge or over the dam or wherever it goes.

I must give credit to her mother and her stepfather for the job they have done in her day-to-day life.

However, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree and that little girl has a good measure of her old man's savvy and spunk. I hope it serves her well.

On the night of her actual birthday, Sept. 29, I have been invited to be the keynote speaker for the induction of new members of the National Honor Society at Johnson High School in Gainesville.

They have selected someone to introduce me who will likely tell of my journalistic career, such as it is, and about my love for the great state of Georgia.

The introducer has not asked for a biographical sketch, and that makes me a bit nervous.

But besides the nerves, the proudest one in the room will be me.

Because, 18 years earlier on that very day, I saw her come into this world.

"Seedlings turn overnight into sunflowers," wrote the lyricist. "Blossoming even as we gaze."

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays.



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