Thursday, February 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Max



My youngest of the four sons is having a birthday today. He went off to school feeling quite ill this a.m. His psychology teacher challenged them to fast for 24 hours (for extra credit points) and journal about it. He was quite grouchy this morning and having physical illness. And that is just for a 24-hour period. He's 6-foot tall and barely weighs 120 pounds, and he's growing. He took a lunch to break his fast at 1:30 this afternoon.

When he was born, his Grandfather Miller had died on the 19th. We were preparing for a funeral when Max fought his way into the world. We had sat around the kitchen table on the 20th, while Mr. Hunt, the funeral director laid out choices and everyone, including my three oldest boys, stated their memories and what they wanted to see in the ceremony. It was a hard day. I wasn't feeling well, but my body was in grief mode, so that was to be expected. Then, the next day around noon, Max Christian was born.

My oldest son made a banner for his Grandmother's house announcing his name and the details. It was bittersweet. At the funeral home, no one liked Max's name so someone got the bright idea to pass around a paper to give us suggestions. That paper was lost in the hospital (I wish I still had it.) I just remember a sentimental cousin suggesting the name Eugene (my husband's father's name) and Uncle John suggesting "John." John's sister, my mother-in-law, threatened me saying I couldn't name any of my boys John because he would be mean. (LOL) But their suggestions fell on deaf ears, and while my husband was busy at home with details, I had already filled out the birth certificate with our choice that was made months before.

Max had a bit of a rough start and we weren't sure if he would make it, but he is a fighter and has been tough ever since. I don't even know how to describe the intense feelings of love I have about my sons, and Max is no exception to that.Despite my own medical problems right then, and the grieving, there is something about a baby that still will bring a smile to my face.



Crystal with Max Feb. 1991

band2007 002


But today, once again, our family is in grief mode. Max has a fascination with the Grandfather he never got to meet, and who had such a profound influence on the rest of us. I don't want him to always associate his birthday with funerals and talking about death, but it is a part of life. We try to be honest and one of our family things is to sit around the table and talk about even the rawest details. There are no euphemisms, or punches pulled. We have a pragmatic and humorous look at life with hope in the next life laced in.

Tonight we will celebrate Max with lots of food(at least this is what Max is looking forward to) and talk and laughter (as long as the fasting didn't do Max in today. He has been violently ill on his birthday!  That wasn't nice.) All of these things have a way of becoming part of the fabric and legends of our family, and the stories we tell.


But his birthday is embroidered with death. On the day that my father-in-law died (from heart disease all those years before) my Uncle Alton Lee(my Dad's brother) died. We are greatly sad today about this.  I have both sad and funny stories about him and those stories have already been discussed.  I suppose more will surface in the days to come. I feel the worst for my Grandmother who has now survived over all of her siblings, two husbands, and now two sons. My Dad was her oldest son who died some years before,  and Alton Lee was her youngest son. He was only 15 years older than me, and like an older brother to me. We will miss him and are sorry he felt such a burden in his life.


All the Warrens in Better days

Happier Days with the Warrens:

front row,l to r: Linda, Gayla Paulette, Sue

Second row l to r: Alton Lee(deceased,) Wilburn (my dad,deceased)Lillian (my mom,deceased,) Pauline (my grandmother, 93,) Roy Lee (my Granddaddy, deceased,) Rob (married to my Aunt Nell, deceased,) Nell


God bless Max, and God be with our family in the days to come.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Max!

Crystal, I'm praying for you and your family. Life and death are so interwoven.


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to the mom who did the birthing!
Thanks for you ideas for the list--I think I may steal a few ;)

Delia said...

Happy Birthday, Max!

I'll be praying for your family as you take this time to celebrate his life and remember the ones you've lost.


Pam Halter said...

When the grief lessens and happy memories surface, you will smile again. That's the beauty of a loving family.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Crystal -

Happy Birthday to Max!

February is also a bittersweet month for me. It's my birthday month, as well as filled with memories of delightful Valentine's Day celebrations.

Two years ago, February marked the beginning of my husband's illness and subsequent leukemia diagnosis (the day before my birthday).

In the midst of sadness and concern, my beloved took a sheet of looseleaf paper and made a birthday card for me. He said the nurses wouldn't let him go down to the gift shop.

Best of all, I know I'll see him again someday.

Crystal Laine said...

Such nice words, like balm for the healing. Thank you.

Max survived his fasting! Now for the feasting! (It's snowing so I hope we get to go.)

Heather, I really liked your post. I may have to think of my own list. (Smile.)

LeAnne Benfield Martin said...

Thank God for Max. And for joy even in the midst of grief.


Crystal Laine said...

Thanks to all of you with your greetings and sympathy, and prayers offered on our behalf. We greatly appreciate them. Such balming and sweet words.

Susan,my deepest sympathy and I thank you for sharing your own pain to offer hope for others.

We had a good time with Max on his birthday.

Now if it would just warm up!