Sunday, May 27, 2012

On Memorial Day, remembering those who preceded Holden Jae Hubbard

For much of my life, Memorial Day involved reflecting on the memories of the singular person who impacted my childhood more than any other: Edsel Hubbard, my grandfather and still the greatest man I've ever known. That was in part because of the special bond I had with him, but also because his and his mother's death a few months earlier were the only ones that touched my family until I reached adulthood.

In recent years, it's unfortunately expanded to include a few other close loved ones like his wife and my grandmother, Midge; my cousin Alicia Colvin; and dear family friend David Dearinger.

Sarah's family has even more loved ones to remember on this weekend, including her dad's father, mother and sister when she was a kid. And most recently her grandfather, Popi, who I got to know for a few short years.

But this Memorial Day not only has me reflecting on my memories of my lost loved ones, but also how they impacted me in becoming who I am and specifically how I have the responsibility to do the same for my new son in a few short months.

The one thing this long wait to bring Holden Jae home makes me appreciate, is the time we will have with him once he arrives. And once he is here, I hope he has many, many years to get to know each person in his life, especially his grandparents.

Because I always have -- and still do -- feel that the time we had to spend with my grandfather was far too brief.

Edsel Hubbard was, coincidentally, a veteran based in Germany during the Korean War, which ended with Holden Jae's birthplace remaining a democratic country. Shortly after, he had 4 kids and worked as a salesman for Prudential until retirement during a different time when our grandparents could retire in their early 50s.

It's hard to believe it's been 22 years since my grandfather died of throat and lung cancer at the age of 60.  He would be 83 on Halloween this year. He's now been gone more than twice as long as I knew him. But for 10 brief years I enjoyed fishing outings, tossing ball, and cuddling up in his lap while he watched Bassmasters and nodded off from narcolepsy he developed from his abnormal sleep regimen during military service.

Those are the things I remember fondly of Edsel Hubbard. But he was more than just my grandfather, he was my best friend. He was loving, endearing, loyal, admirable and as much a family man as any that's ever existed.

My grandfather's death was the greatest pain of my life. His funeral was on my 10th birthday. He seemed so old and wise at the time, and there was no one who could ever replace him -- as a grandfather or a friend -- but he died far too young in retrospect.

It's probably my age and perspective, but neither my dad nor Sarah's dad seems like they're as old as Grandpa Hubbard was, yet both are less than 4 years from 60 and already older than Edsel was when he first got cancer. The same was true of Sarah's grandfather, Arnold Zopfi. One of my greatest hopes is that Holden Jae has the same kind of relationship with Wendell Zopfi and Tim Hubbard as I had with my grandfather. And seeing him with my nephew, Brody, I know my dad is much more like his own father than I ever imagined or gave him credit for when I was young.

It's because of my respect and admiration of my grandfather, my father and my father-in-law that it took me so long to accept this fatherly responsibility: Sarah has wanted to be a mother since she graduated college, while I held out until I neared my third decade. I have such huge footsteps to follow, and I will never live up to the example set by Edsel Hubbard, Tim Hubbard and Wendell Zopfi.

Fortunately, the bar was set so high by that triumvirate that even being half the man/father/friend will be quite the accomplishment.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Derby Weekend Wins and Losses

Well, I spent $18 betting on the Kentucky Derby. And, I lost. My trifecta wasn't a successful bet.
But, luckily, I had a few wins come my way this weekend too. Not in the form of money or things, but in the form of people and stories.

In the form of moments that shape your way of thinking.

Travis and I enjoyed our Derby evening in the company of old, dear friends. Steve and Niki Jones invited us, along with a swell of people, to visit their newly renovated home. It's a precious little shotgun cottage complete  with a fenced in back yard and the cutest little Moon Pie puppy you could dream up.

Among the grilling out and mint julep drinking, I enjoyed meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends.

As the night grew darker, and the "super moon" shown a little brighter, my mind kept drifting away from the party and to my son. As it often does. I wondered what he was doing on this beautiful Saturday evening. I wondered if his foster family had even heard of the Derby.

As my thoughts drifted in and out of Holden's life, Niki introduced me to one of her dear friends who herself had been adopted through a domestic adoption 37 years ago. Not only had this woman been adopted, her brothers and sister were adopted too. Her brothers, both in the USA, like her. Her sister? Well, she was adopted from South Korea 28 years ago when she was 9 years old. Yes, two sisters not by blood, but by love...the same age.

I spent the next hour listening to the story of "Susan." The little girl who came from Korea and into a family of 5. She got to pick her own American name. She didn't look at all like her siblings or her parents. But, somehow, she just fit. And, Niki's friend said (with a chuckle) people better not call her Korean today, because she considers herself American.

Then, I got out my phone, and showed off pictures and videos of my son. It feels good to do that. It feels so awesome to say, "This is my son." And, to feel my heart nearly burst with pride.

As we were saying our goodbyes, I could feel that throbbing in my head. Maybe I had over-served myself and would regret it the next morning. But, I certainly wouldn't regret that night and it's stories.

Once we got in the car, I turned to Travis and said: "Man, it sure felt good to show Holden off."

His response?

"Yeah. It sure does."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Today, I finished the book "Bloom." It is by a mother of a three year old and a one year old down syndrome child. Her name is Kelle Hampton. I recommend this book to any mother, mother-to-be or woman who loves children.

With that said, I must create for you the picture of me finishing this book in my classroom during nap time.
Here I am reading, lights off and nap music on. Tears are flooding my eyes and dripping ever so softly onto the pages of my $30 book, ruining it no doubt.

I'm trying not to seem sad, as I know my "kids" are watching me. But, this book is so darn beautiful. What Kelle sees, feels and knows about her DS daughter, is beautiful. Her love for life, and all it's imperfections is beautiful.

And while my son does not have DS, this book still made me smile.

I needed to finish this book today. For today, has been a rough day for me.

As many of you know, Holden had some complications at birth. His birth mother was only 4 feet and 9 inches tall. He became stuck in her birth canal upon entering this world. As a result, he did aspirate some meconium at birth. He was without air for a few minutes. His Apgar score was still a 7, and ALL of his tests have come back normal. The doctors assure us Holden is healthy and fine. He was well-taken care of at birth. But, as a parent, you worry.

Holden is amazing. He walked at 10 months. He can run, and walk backward. He shakes his head no or yes at 14 months old. He pretends to talk on a phone. He climbs and falls, and does it again. He stacks blocks, dances and laughs. He is amazing. Is this child lacking? NO WAY.

Reading "Bloom" taught me that all I have to do is love Holden. I can't predict the future. And, I can't change his past. He is meeting and exceeding many milestones for his age. He is right on target for success.

I can rest in the belief that Holden Jae-Min was MADE for me. He was MADE for Travis. He was MADE for Adam Zopfi and Todd Hubbard to be his uncles, and for Lindsay Brown and Danielle Hubbard to be his aunts.

He was MADE for Wendell Zopfi to teach him how to water-ski, and be resilient among life's many obstacles. He was MADE for Alice Zopfi to teach him how to plant a garden, and love his family.

He was MADE for Tim Hubbard to teach him how to drive a tractor, and work hard for what you want. He was MADE for Mary Hubbard to teach him how to count and read, and appreciate his family.

This most precious of souls was MADE for us. This plan was created for us centuries and light years ago. It is so breathtaking to watch it unfold in front of my eyes, and in front of my heart.

How amazingly LUCKY am I to experience a love so deep, that is glows and permeates my life from 6,000 miles away.

And this is only the beginning!! One day soon, I will be able to TOUCH my son's skin. And, smell his sweet, sweaty baby love smell. And, look into his eyes. I will be able to squeeze his toes, and squish his piggy fat legs. I will be able to kiss his sticky fingers and his sweet lips.

I will get to hold him on a 15 hour flight back to home. And, along the way I can finally share with him my worries and concerns as he lived afar. But, I can also assure him of a love so deep, he could never find it's roots. A love that started with a search for a child, but ended with a homecoming. A search that ended with him.

I will finally be able to let him rest his head upon my shoulder. I will FINALLY know the weight of MY child in my arms.

The seeds are sown friends. And, the buds are sprouting. Tiny little leaves are breaking through the soil.

All we wait on now is The Bloom...