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New grandson delivers enduring gift of hope

Today the maternity ward seemed the busiest wing of the hospital, buzzing with the sounds of doctors and nurses scurrying, and the excited chatter of families. My first grandson was born just hours ago to my daughter and son-in-law, and aside from looking forward to spoiling him, my wife and I as new grandparents are trying to determine which side of the family he takes after.

He has dad's cheeks; our son-in-law's chin; his fingers are long like his mom's. He doesn't seem quite big enough to grow up into a football linebacker, but perhaps with his stature, long and skinny, he'll be a basketball star. He's got ears like great-grandpa; and a full head of hair like that distant uncle what's-his-name whom nobody can really remember. We ponder and laugh at the possibilities.

My relatives pass him around and coo. After a tender round of fanny pats, cheek squeezing and gentle kisses, I finally get my turn to hold him. At first glance, he's like anyone else's child. He is a wonderful little bundle of joy, bringing a wide smile to my face.

But I know this: He's not just anyone's baby. I can tell by his eyes; he has the exact same vibrancy, compassion and tenderness that I have seen in my daughter's eyes. Maybe that observation is transparent to everyone except me.

I've been privileged to have my daughter show me all the joy of being her dad -- the accomplishments, the dreams, her unrelenting faith and spirit, her innate expectation of the goodness in people, her fight for the "little guy" and her honest cheer for the underdog.

Twenty-two years ago, I sat in this very same hospital, cradling my newborn daughter. I looked into her eyes and saw those traits, despite some tough times. We were experiencing the repercussions of international and local human rights problems, political upheaval and a weak economy. Several months before she was born, I had been laid off from my job due to deteriorating local business levels, but I was unfazed. Her birth, and the prospects of what were yet to be, provided me the steadfastness to strive on.

It put me at great ease realizing that my daughter, in her own corner of life, had grown up an advocate for that which is good and worthwhile in the world. With God's help, in her own personal and loving way, she has made the world's burdens that much lighter for those who have known her.

My grandson and I are sitting together now. He's so little and precious; barely a handful in size. I notice today's newspaper on the nightstand, and the television drones from the corner of the hospital room. The headlines and latest news broadcasts once again give somber status of the throes of economic depression and escalating international conflict. But at this moment I am unmoved, and my assurance remains.

I arise and present my grandson his first view of the outside world from the hospital window. My daughter's face beams as I look into my grandson's eyes, and whisper a thankful prayer for him. Like my daughter, his eyes tell me all I need to know.

Sometimes, we look out our windows and see the horizon fraught with uncertainty and trouble. We don't know what's in store for us; what will lie ahead in the months and years to come. But I have no fear. Just like my daughter did so many years ago, and without being able to utter a single word, her tiny son has given me the ageless and enduring gift of hope.

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