Sunday, March 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Berkley!

Glinda writes:

Friday was Berkley's 1st birthday. The big Numero Uno.

My plunge into family history, particularly on the Brenz-Hart sides has given me pause to do some thinking about this special little one, this special day, and what it all means (if one can ever completely know). In our family, Berkley is Bransen and Leigh's 1st child, and Brian and Diane's 1st Grandchild. Berkley is Mother's 1st Great Grandchild. Although Lottie Hart Brenz passed in 1950, Berkley would be her 1st Great Great Grandchild.

Reflecting on it all, we have been richly blessed with the gift of beautiful children in our family. I am not just speaking of physical beauty. I do not know what it is about babies, but they fill one with love and joy right to the core. They can light up just about anybody. It is almost as if you hold the great mystery of life right there in your hands. Those tiny toes, those 10 little fingers, that 1st smile, that bubbling laughter, those 1st steps, the tender words "Ma Ma" and "Da Da" just sink you right to your knees in the most gentle and humble of loving spaces.

When one becomes a parent, one begins to see oneself as part of a long line of humans extending way back, even to the beginning of time. In becoming an adult and a parent, that "1st place" (or "1st generation") that one held as a child now moves back. In embracing even a tiny bit of this, a kind of awe, humility and grace unfold. Words just cannot describe what it all means. You just have to sit there and soak in what you can. We are richly blessed beyond our deepest knowing.

This little letter is a celebration of Berkley and her special day. It is further a celebration of all those wee ones to whom we have been entrusted (or will be entrusted), and who we have once been (and will forever be). We have been a part of the launching of wee little ones as they find their own very special place as adults in the world.

1st Generation:

Happy 1st Birthday,
Berkley Kate!

2nd Generation:
Cousins gather: Becky, Bransen (to become Berkley's Father), Christy and Melanie (about 1977). I think this was at Brian and Debby's house. Debby is Bransen's Mother.

(Family: Can you help me out here? What was the date? How old are these wee ones? I think this picture of Melanie was taken the Christmas before Grandpa Crawford passed, which would make it December 1977. Does this sound right?)

One more cousin (Brennen) arrives in 1991. This photo, taken some time later, is one of my all time favorites. Cousin Melanie hugs Brennen, while Diane (Brennen's Mother) smiles, Brian (Brennen's father) snaps a picture at precisely the same moment I snap another. Children (especially our own) have the capacity to fill us with joy beyond our wildest knowing.
3rd Generation:
Brian (Berkley's Grandpa) and his sister Glinda (Berkley's Great Aunt) have smiles for the camera and the picture taker in about 1955.

Brian reaches for his birthday cake on his 1st birthday in 1955. Note the stack of presents with Jingles, the stuffed dog which was a gift from Cousin Russell, Jr. He carried this dog (who if I remember correctly had bells in his ears) on many a childhood journey.

Russell Jr. with 2 very proud Aunts (left to right): Ruth and Dorothy. Russell Jr. is 1st cousin to Brian and Glinda. This picture was taken by Fred A. Brenz (Russell Jr.'s Grandfather), September 14, 1941, at Memorial Park in Kirksville. Russell Jr. (called "Junior" because his Dad was also named Russell) was 2 years old. Aunt Ruth was home from Michigan.

Grandmother Lottie Brenz clipped and pasted this article into her scrapbook about some very special birthday celebrations in 1940.
4th generation:
The 3 sisters (Ruth, Dorothy, and Louise) sit amidst baby chickens and what must be the Mama henny. Looking closely, one can see that Dorothy is holding a dish (assumed for feeding) while Louise is holding a bird (assumed to be a chicken). This picture is a photocopy. In my perusal through the family archives, I hope to find the original. As would be true to form, Mother will have detailed information on the back (which is much needed inspiration to me). Mother looks to be about 2, which would make Ruth about 5 and Louise about 10. This photo is assumed to be about 1924.
5th Generation:
This is Lottie Hart at about 4 years of age which would be about 1888. I think she would be very proud of all of the little ones (and the big ones too).

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