Keep your fork

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Last week my daughter, Catherine, went into my grandson’s bedroom to wake him up and get him ready for daycare.

Usually ready to hit the ground running, he refused to get out of bed.

“Don’t you want to go see Brooks?” she asked.

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Despite the fact that Brooks is his best friend, he shook his head “No.”

“Don’t you want to eat breakfast?”

The head shook yet again. After several other attempts, she called his dad into the bedroom. He tried his own questions, also without success.

Finally, Henry looked up at them and said simply, “I want my granddaddy.”

Today is Henry’s second birthday. If you are reading this column, then you are already far down the list of those that have already heard this story from me. I still break into a smile thinking about it. Actually, it isn’t a smile so much as a full blown ear-to-ear grin.

To top off the splendor of this past week for me, my granddaughter, Laura, came over from Dothan to celebrate Henry’s birthday. She is six months old so she didn’t participate in kicking the ball, tearing the paper off the presents, or singing “Happy Birthday.”

Laura just sat in my lap and smiled like a princess. She can’t say the words yet, but I am almost certain that some of those grins were just her way of saying “I want my granddaddy, too.”

My grandchildren shared these moments not just with their parents and grandparents, but also with their three surviving great-grandparents. Thankfully, we all have digital cameras now or our film and developing bill would have been pretty substantial.

Two weeks ago, my pastor, Tim Bell, preached on the Transfiguration as we prepared for Communion. He used an illustration from his own childhood when his mother would tell him to “keep your fork.” That meant that now that dinner was finished, the dessert was about to be served.

The phrase instantly took me back to my own childhood. It was my own great-grandmother that first introduced me to banana pudding. As we sat around the large table on the back porch at Compass Lake, we were told to “keep our fork.” I guess I have heard that phrase hundreds of times since then. As Tim said, it always meant the same thing: The best is yet to come.

I have thought constantly about that sermon and illustration in the last two weeks. It is amazing how it fits into the events of our lives.

No matter how incredibly good it made me feel to hear that Henry wants his granddaddy, I believe that for him the best is yet to come. No matter how Laura can melt my heart with her beautiful smile, I believe for her the best is yet to come.

I actually believed that about my own children. My oldest will turn 30 next year. I can say with certainty that each year has been better than the previous one. I loved my girls as babies, children, teenagers and young women, but I love them more today than ever. I am keeping my fork, because I believe the best is yet to come.

I am closer to my brother and sister after 50 years than we have ever been. We had a great childhood, but we love and support each other now in ways we wouldn’t have understood back then. I am keeping my fork, because I believe the best is yet to come.

My wife and I have shared 42 years of friendship and 32 years of marriage. Our path from then to now wasn’t totally smooth, but today I am more certain that she loves me than I was the day we married. I may not deserve it, but I know it to be true. The best of all is that I believe that at age 56, the best is yet to come between us. I know I am going to keep my fork.

The truth is that with that phrase in my head I have been taking a lot of inventory of my life in the past two weeks. I am not a Pollyanna trying to only sing the “Happy Song,” but I must admit that the attitude and belief that life will only get better can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

My business is surviving the worst economic downturn in my lifetime. I believe it will get better.

My church is undergoing extensive renovations and additions funded by a thankful congregation. I believe it will only get better.

What about all the things that we see on the nightly news that can drive us to despair?

What about our government that has an 86 percent unfavorable rating?

What about the continued strife in Iraq and Afghanistan and dozens of other places around the world?

What about our budget, and health care, and education, and taxes?

Perhaps it is then Tim’s sermon that can pull all of this together. Despite the good and bad of my life individually and our lives collectively, I believe that the promises of that communion table are indeed promises of a better life yet to come. Those promises not only fuel the good part of my life, but give me hope for those things I can’t control.

I am a Christian that believes that God has the ability to extend his grace beyond my own denomination and beliefs. I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I have accepted His promise that the best is yet to come. Because of that, I’ll be keeping my fork.