He Has Started Small, But We’ve Got Big Plans

Published 9:03 am Thursday, August 3, 2017

William Benjamin Hollifield, newly born, has a distinguished name worthy of a future president or Supreme Court justice. He’ll make a governor, at minimum. For now, however, he occupies a tiny bassinet in Durham. He began his life’s journey at a mere 4 pounds, 9 ounces, last week, but I expect his weight to increase with time and calories, as it does for the rest of us.

He is the first-born son of Nancy Vogler and Ben Hollifield and the newest member of our expanding brood of grandchildren — now at seven.

One day, I will teach him — like the others — how to fish without catching. I am actively discouraging him from playing soccer. The hospital pediatrician agreed with me on that. Maybe I’ll give him a pocketknife too, but I’ll instruct him not to immediately slice his thumb like one of his cousins did this summer. Maybe we’ll hike mountains, and he’ll carry the backpack to lighten the load on my aging knees. Maybe I’ll read him “Ferdinand the Bull” and “How I Became a Pirate” as I have for the others.

There are wonderful possibilities.

One day he will dig thistles in the cow pasture and learn to spin out on the Big Wheel in the driveway.

For right now, I’m biding my time until he isn’t so fragile.

Birth is a miracle, and this newcomer gave us plenty of worries by arriving a month early.

He is a tiny thing, and I counted fingers and toes to make sure all the parts are in place. He’s the complete package.

I’m thinking he’ll be pretty smart in school. Already, he’s had to pass a battery of tests in the hospital, including the required “baby seat test,” to prove he could sit in a car seat — while breathing — for 90 minutes. He aced that one, too.

He’s quite a boy.

• • • • •

Oddly, there is a crepe myrtle outside Walgreen’s at the corner of US 158 and NC 801 in Bermuda Run that is in full flower now. Half purple. Half white. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation.

• • • • •

We went to the opening night of the movie “Dunkirk,” and had to sit on the front row — taking the last seats of a sell-out show. I hadn’t sat on the front row since the movie “Towering Inferno” in 1974 when I felt at times as if I were on fire. Last week I felt as if I were adrift in the English Channel.

“Dunkirk” recounts the daring escape of Great Britain’s army from sure annihilation with its back to the sea as Hitler’s army closed around it early in World War II. Some 800 little boats — even some piloted by civilians — helped ferry 400,000 soldiers across the English Channel to safety in 1940. It was a heroic rescue that showed a remarkable national resolve.

The escape allowed Great Britain to continue the war and proved to be one of Hitler’s pivotal mistakes that cost Germany what could have been an early knock-out punch in Western Europe well before the United States joined the war.

Seeing and reading about all those World War II stories always prompts the question: Do we have the grit to persevere against such enemies today?

• • • • •

Tomatoes with eggs for breakfast. Tomato sandwiches for lunch. Last week Elizabeth cooked a surprisingly tasty tomato pie for supper in an effort to use our backlog.

Consuming them for three meals a day, I’m getting dangerously close to having eaten enough tomatoes.

— Dwight Sparks