He was 13 months old and, if you were to paint a picture of "beautiful," it would be of Eli.
He's the son of Katie Nelson, a former student and now dear friend, and Eric Owles. Both are exceptional journalists, she with The New York Daily News and he with The New York Times. Eli is, as they are, of Brooklyn. And if his intense gaze at his surroudings is any key, he'll be a great journalist, too.
I met Eli in Weston, Mo., at the wonderful wedding (they're all wonderful, aren't they?) of Neeley Spellmeier (to John Watkins), another former student and now good friend (though she tends to ignore that part by not communicating as often as I'd like -- even though she has MY book! More on that later in the P.S. below.)
Eli and I bonded. Though, I must admit, he bonded with just about everyone, but I'd like to think we bonded, well, more! After all, I am the one who proudly caused the need to have his clothes washed because of the abundance of chocolate wedding cake residue on his clothes. (To be fair, my suit is heading to the cleaners because of cake residue, too.)
He and Katie then came to our home both Saturday and Sunday nights, so we had lots of time to play with Eli. He slept well, both nights. He was busy. I'm just sore, can barely stand, from crawling, lifting, bending, jumping, carrying, crawling (did I mention crawling?) and playing endless sessions of Peek-a-Boo, which always brought a chuckle from him -- and everyone else in attendance. Either Eli looked silly or, perhaps, it was me. But who cares? It was fun.
The reason for this is to take note of how beautiful Eli is, how beautiful all children are. And how Eli, and Katie, and Eric are beautiful, too. And how amazing, challenging , invigorating the raising of children remains, especially when it's done so well by them. And how virtually everything else in the world is infinitesimally less important.
Including brain surgery, especially in my case: The doc, last Wednesday, gave me a big thumbs up after my latest CAT scan with another scheduled in two months "just to be sure." And another welcome edict: I'm being weaned off the med I'm on, so martinis on Sunday in about four and a half weeks!
So life is beautiful. Especially with special visitors like Katie and Eli. So rejoice. I will.
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P.S.: A friend of Neeley's, on graduation, if I recall correctly, gave her a book, "The Natural," by one of my favorite authors, Bernard Malamud. She showed it to me. To her surprise (but not so much to mine), the inside flap had an impression -- the stamp I put in many of my books noting that the book was the property of one Malcolm Gibson. I'd loaned the book to a student, whose name had long slipped from my memory. Apparently, he had sold the book, likely along with a lot others and not noticing mine was among them, to the Dusty Bookshelf downtown. We laughed about it, and, of course, I said the book was hers. At Saturday's wedding, the couple had placed an old typewriter on a table for guests to write something special for that special day. I decided to write a limerick (and for those who've taken my editing classes, they know that it's appropriate because it's something I use to teach word use, cadence and headline writing). It read:
Neeley once was given a book
That from Malcolm someone had took
But no clue to who was the crook.
Amazed they sure were
When the stamp did concur
But no clue to who was the crook.