On the Corner
by Robert Doctor –
Does every family have a family couch—where most of the conversation takes place—where most important events are explored—where feelings emerge unannounced? Ours is a large, leather corner sectional. It’s where everyone goes to sit when they walk into our well-named family room. It’s the gathering place, and on special days or special occasions all the family members are there. I sat on our family couch the other day surrounded by parents and children and just sat back listening to the voices. My “spot” seems to be in the corner, and each of the grandchildren take great joy in rushing to beat grandpa to his spot. It’s kind of a rounded corner, so there’s always room to squeeze another body in.
Such was my joy on this occasion. Morgan Ellis Jennings introduced himself to his extended family. He dropped in just a few days late accompanied by his parents, Julie and Paul Jennings. He’s not small—weighing in at eight pounds fifteen ounces—almost 21 inches long. He was lying comfortably in his mother’s arms close to his cousin, Grace, six months his senior. Quickly, he began contributing strenuously to the conversation in his own unique way. His four-year-old brother, Griffith, who had already met him at the hospital, just stood in front of him transfixed, his wide, dark eyes filled with awe. His two-year-old brother, Owen, who was being introduced for the first time, wandered over, took a quizzical look, and then ran off to more exciting conquests.
Julie looked radiant—her face lighted from within. Paul had a big grin pasted on his face under sleepy eyes. She held Morgan close to her, the warmth of her body warming him in a symbiotic, reciprocal kind of way that comes when one person nurtures another. Already, he’s giving something back. Paul wandered away in search of ‘Griff’ and Owen. I got the impression he didn’t want them to feel pushed aside, or replaced in any way. His arms opened wide and surrounded both sons. When he crouched down to talk to them, his eyes became brighter, his face said: “I’m here—with you,” and they resonated to his caring warmth and love.
Some of Morgan’s older cousins came around, hovering close for a few minutes, asking questions, relating, and looking with wonder in their eyes. Their parents stood just behind them, marveling at the mystery of new life and immense joy.
Julie passed Morgan over to Diane, sitting beside the couch in her rocker. She was the only one besides his mother to hold him that day. The bonding started quickly—her tone of voice, the sounds coming from deep in her heart, the slight crinkle of lines around her eyes, her face revealing more than any words could describe the miracle of borderless, expansive love.
Looking at her as she held our fourteenth grandchild I felt overwhelmed with feelings. Simply to describe them with the word “joy” would do them no justice, for they stimulated thoughts of twenty other children in those remarkable arms listening to her, relaxing with her, feeling the comfort of complete security locked in her embrace.
My mind traveled back fifty years—startled for a moment at the tempo of time in which a life is lived—seeing her when first we met—seeing her full beauty now—wanting somehow to express my appreciation for choosing to live her life with me—knowing, without the ability to conceptualize, the true meaning of love.
I looked around the room—what a family—what a remarkable group of people sharing the excitement of a new member within an elastic extended family. What a bunch.
So Morgan—we’re all really glad to see you—unique and independent as you seem to be, yet still fully connected to your parents, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmas Diane and Doreen—Grandpa Colin—and don’t forget the guy in the corner of the couch. He’s been praying for you for six or eight months, now, and loves you already.