Burger to Go: Hello, Ellie

Posted by By at 1 October, at 13 : 11 PM Print

Introductions are in order: The rumpled character looming on your left is me, T.W. Burger, sometime newspaper reporter, retired (not my idea) and staying very busy as a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines.

Like every other journalist, I have a blog, and I’m working on a book. The blog I rarely write in, at least not since a few months before I left my job. The book I mostly just talk about.

The woman in the photo is Sue, my sweetie of many years. She is my best friend in the world, and one of the most truly capable people I’ve ever known. She is really good at making lemonade out of lemons. Which is a good thing, because there have been an awful lot of lemons.

The babe-in-arms, star of the photo, and the reason for Sue’s deer-in-the-headlights look, is Elizabeth Gail, to be known informally henceforth as Ellie. I suspect one or two silly baby nicknames will find their way into the mix before it’s all over.

Ellie, of course, is the Most Beautiful Baby in The World, and I’ll swat the man who says otherwise.

Ellie is Sue’s first great-grandchild. Hence the Bambi & bright lights expression.

You can’t tell it from the photo, but I have the same expression, though I am no blood relation. Well, technically speaking neither is Sue, if we were talking genetics, which we are not. Papa Greg is the son of Sue’s oldest son’s wife from a previous marriage. But, you see, this is where genetics and family part ways, because though neither Sue nor I share any genetic relation with Ellie other than what we share with any other human, she is family, with a bond beyond the mere biological.

And so, there I was, on the big leather couch, holding a newborn for the first time in a good 40 years.

She slept. She slept almost our entire visit, but especially as I held her.

I can’t say how long I held that amazing thing; a brand-new human. I am not a religious person, but I am not immune to wonder. Indeed, free from the religious folderol, the world itself sheds the costumes of sacred mumbo-jumbo and enters the truly miraculous, where every living thing is linked inextricably to every other living thing, and we are all in this wonderful soup together.

Ellie squeaked, and her eyes moved rapidly under her sleeping lids. What does she have to dream ABOUT, I wonder. She has only been with us for a couple of weeks. But then, those weeks would certainly be filled with new experiences. Lots of learning going on there, kiddo.

“Every now and then she wakes up, looks around, and says ‘Holy CRAP! It’s TRUE!” I said to nobody in particular.

But she didn’t wake; she  flexed her fingers and arms, moved her head, gave a long squeak like a rusty hinge, mooched her mouth around as though she tasted something for the first time and found it palatable. Her head, warm as new bread and the size of a softball, lay cupped in my right hand. The hand, my hand, etched with scars and carrying some hard memories, laid curled and caressing her tiny head, her dream-soft hair.

Welcome aboard, Ellie. Say hello to the world, a stew of miracles, laughter and terrors, a place of discoveries and struggles and love. Best of all, love. Not nearly enough of that, but still worth the trouble. From what I have seen of your parents, you’re going to know a lot about love before you run into any of the hard parts.

It’s a new taste of my own mortality, sweeter than most. I have read that, with new advances in medical know-how, and what we know about living and nutrition and so on, it is not unlikely that Ellie will open her eyes one morning in the 22nd century. She might look out on wonderful things I cannot imagine. Maybe she will have witnessed staggering things, some good, and some bad. I hope against the latter and pray, even as an atheist, for the former.

Amanda comes over and takes Ellie to go change into fresh diapers for Greg’s return from work. Reluctantly, I hand the future back to her mother. It’s OK. I am transformed.


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This post was written by:
- who has written 28 posts for Rock The Capital
T.W. Burger was born in western Pennsylvania but spent more than 30 years growing up in Athens Ga., with a two-year side-trip to Greenville, Mississippi. He has lived in the Gettysburg area since 1985. Before becoming a newspaper reporter at 35, he was an apprentice mortician, concrete mixer driver, garbageman, salesman, laboratory technician and all-around roustabout. He has written professionally since the late 1970s. He lives along Marsh Creek near Gettysburg with his partner Sue and a loose affiliation of cats. He is the author of the “Burger to Go” blogsite at Burger2go.wordpress.com. - Email tburger


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