(John McLean Sharp / Photo by Bella Baby Photography)
The title of this segment on “The Pressbox,” is called “Perspectives.” I often wondered why we called it that. “Perspectives.” Hmmm. Funny word. Funny title.
But, for some odd reason, it stuck. And, it fits.
Sometimes, we chat about our reasons to own a racehorse, and what a buddy at the barn can do to one’s life, attitude and approach to life. Sometimes, we delve into the mysteries of life, and how much a 4-hour road trip to the Lake House can do to reset the mind and recharge the batteries. Sometimes, we look at the lives of friends and loved ones, who have passed way too early; have gone on way too soon. Sometimes, we stop to remember. Sometimes, we hit the gas pedal to forget.
But last week I found out the true meaning of why we have this segment.
I realized, maybe for the first time, what “Perspectives” truly is, and how important “Perspective” can be. Last week, I met the definition of “Perspectives.”
You see, it was just last Thursday morning that I got the joy of seeing my newest grandson, John McLean Sharp, join his mom, Alex, and dad, Evan for the first time.
I saw them cradle his little body next to theirs. Their hearts jumping for joy, and bodies running on empty.
I saw them cringe when they attempted to pick him up, with fear, trepidation and love. The greatest of these, of course, is love.
I saw the absolute love in their eyes when they looked to see whose nose Baby Mac got. Alex is convinced its’ hers. Just a button. Hard to argue.
And, I heard the adoration in their voices when they rubbed Baby Mac’s Evan-like locks, the curls already started to mount. How they wanted a mass of dark, curly hair to top off the carrot. How they got exactly what they wanted.
I was amazed to see pure delight in people’s faces when they walked into the room and saw a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a modern day manger. The smiles bounced unannounced.
I was truly astonished to see oldsters cry like babies when they got to finally cuddle the little bundle of joy next to their own chest, and feel the heartbeat of a newbie. The beat, beat, beat so real. And, the thump, thump, thump so unbelievable.
And, it didn’t take long for me to realize that a stark, cold, hospital room had suddenly sprung to life with the sound of music to everyone’s ears — the first cries and sighs of life.
All of a sudden, I found out that all the things that I thought I had to get done on Thursday, really didn’t have to get done at all. And, they didn’t. And, guess what? The world didn’t fall apart.
All of a sudden, all the things that I was worried about and fretting over went away. Maybe to come back another day. But on this day? They didn’t matter. Not one iota. And, guess what? The world didn’t stop turning.
All of a sudden, the calendar that was chalk full of appointments, and Conference Calls, and meetings truly quit turning over on my desk and in my mind. The calls could wait. The baby couldn’t. And, guess what? People understood. They didn’t care. The world didn’t die. It sprang new life. It sprang to life.
Then, the time came.
I got to hold John McLean Sharp for the very first time.
Carefully, we negotiated the transfer of the special delivery package from the arms of grandfather Tom Sharp to mine. Slowly. Meticulously. Every mom’s eye in the room watching. Intensely and intently.
Carefully, I moved John McLean Sharp just a hair closer so that I could peer down into his little eyes. Watery, for sure. But now, for the first time, open. Forcing the lids away, like walking through a door and into a room for the first time. A little bit leery. A little bit skeptical. Yet, a whole lot thrilling. A whole new world awaiting.
It was then that I saw in that baby’s face the same beauty that I saw in his cousin Ford, the first of my three grand grand boys. Pure. Unadulterated love.
It was then that I saw in that baby’s face the same stern determination and courage that I saw in his cousin Jack, the second of my three grand grand sons. Little? Yes. But a lot. A lot of toughness, grit and boy.
It was then that I saw the light. I saw life.
It’s funny that the most popular movie on the big screen these days is a remake of the great Disney movie “The Lion King.” A magical, glamorous sojourn into the “Circle of Life.” For a second, I slipped between real time and holding John McLean Sharp, and drifting off into a dream of watching the cub become the king.
It was about a year ago that I had my second serious and life-threatening bout with blood clots. They had set up shop in my lungs, damming up the most important highways of blood and air flow in the metroplex that is the human body.
The first time I had this fight, I truly didn’t understand the severity and the chances of survival. I’ve always beaten the odds, I thought. I’ll do it again. No sweat. I distinctly remember telling Dr. Payne, “Let’s Rock and Roll.”
The second time, though, I knew exactly what I was up against. I knew I was not supposed to have won the first round of this heavyweight fight. I knew the second was going to be even more challenging and daunting. And, when the Emergency Room doctor asked my beautiful bride to join her outside the room, I knew they were not discussing the weather or politics. It was game on.
Soon, Leigh Ann returned to my side and she handed me a phone. She said that the doctor’s think I should go ahead and make a last call to both of my kids — Brad and Alex.
So I did.
Hardest thing I ever had to do in my life — which I am happy to say is still on-going. Final chapters still to be written. Thank you, God.
But I remember telling both Brad and Alex the same thing. Take care of my babies. The ones already on the ground and the ones to come. I told them to love them — every single day. I told them to cherish them — every single moment. I told them to remind them that their “Pops” loved them, too.
Last Thursday, I got the chance to hold John McLean Sharp. I got to tell him that his “Pops” loves him so. Alex didn’t have to tell him for me. I got to share it.
And, before I realized it, the tears welled up and broke through the sandbags. The water flooded my cheeks.
On Tuesday, I am headed North to Columbus, OH. I will get to celebrate the 5th birthday for Thomas Bradford McLean II. And, I will get to chase after his younger brother Jack. We will go to the store to buy presents. We will build legos, and watch cartoons. Probably, we will go to the zoo. That’s our thing. On Tuesday, I will get to them Ford and Jack that their “Pops loves them so. Brad won’t have to tell them. I will get to share it.
Just yesterday — Sunday afternoon — I drove my boat down Kentucky Lake to The Breakers. It is the finest marina on God’s Green Earth. The owner, Rookie, is a great friend and a master host. The bartender, Zeb, always comes from behind the bar, to give me a hug along with my coldest beverage. And, my brother, Johnny Mac McDaniels, is always on that stage. He can sign and play the guitar as good as anybody who has ever made music.
It dawned on me that Johnny Mac is the same name of my young grandson, John McLean Sharp. And, it dawned on me — right then and there — that I was the luckiest man alive.
Before my friends and I left to head back to the Lake House, I asked Johnny Mac to play me a song. By request, Johnny Mac obliged, as he always does. And, he sang the words like I have never heard them before:
“Why me Lord, what have I ever done…
“To deserve even one…
“Of the pleasures I’ve known…
“Tell me Lord, what did I ever do…
“That was worth loving you…
“Or the kindness you’ve shown.”
(John McLean Sharp / Photos by Bella Baby Photography)