A new story began yesterday. The first sentence of it is like almost every other life story: “The baby came out crying.” You can’t blame him for that; it’s quite a shock to be evicted from the comfortable place he’d been residing for the past nine months. The main character of this particular new story is named Lucas Reeder. The principal supporting characters are Brian Reeder and Heidi Campbell Reeder, my son and daughter-in-law, respectively. (Yes, I’m a grandpa now.)
After that first sentence of every life story is where the fascination begins, because every story goes off in a different, unpredictable direction. Where will Lucas be and what will he be doing when he’s three, and twelve, and twenty-one — and, God help him, sixty-two? Will he be an extrovert or an introvert? Will he have an aptitude for making business decisions, like his Grandma Jackie? Will he grow up loving baseball, as his father did? Will he become a veterinarian, like his Great-uncle Teddy? Will he show an early gift for singing, as his Grandma Sally did? Or when he’s four, will his dream be to drive an ice cream truck, as his Auntie Jen dreamed at that age? Chapter One has just begun, full of all sorts of exciting possibilities: How will Lucas get from here… to there?
The narrative of his story will be shaped, as all of our stories are, by choice and by chance. (I’m setting aside divine intervention for the moment. I have no doubt personally benefited from it over my lifetime, but as a story-telling device it has fallen out of favor.) Guiding Lucas to make good choices will be his parents, of course, and they’ll correct him when he makes bad ones. By chance — where he lives, the schools he attends — he’ll encounter a cast of supporting characters more abundant than in any Dickens novel. Most will be good, while some — unfortunately but inevitably — will be villains. As he matures, he’ll be able to tell which is which. And someday, we can all hope, Lucas will meet that special person; the one he’ll love as much as his mother and father love each other.
Over the next few years I’m looking forward to sitting with that boy and reading books to him, but every day of his life, Lucas Reeder will be telling his grandpa a story. And I love a good story.