Welcome to the world. As information, you are great-grandchild number six, following Cameron Charles Yarbrough, Hayden Rose, Hadley Ann and Harper Grace Yarbrough and brother Henry Sanford Wansley. However, in the case of great-grandchild rankings numbers are irrelevant. All are Number One with me and you will be, too.
I must tell you that I like the name, Noah Sumner, although I think credit for the selection belongs to your mother and father. Sumner comes from your mother’s side of the family. As for Noah, the general consensus is that the name is associated with “rest” or “repose.” I suspect your mom and dad would welcome a little of both over the next few weeks.
As I awaited your birth last week, I thought about the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, which notes that “there is a time for everything. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
As we rejoice at your birth and the new life and promise your represent, we mourn the passing of Nana, your great-grandmother. Yet, I know she would be the first to say now that you are here it is time to cease our weeping and to celebrate your arrival. I wish you could have had the privilege of knowing her. She made everything and everybody around her better. May you do the same.
You are seeing the first of what I hope will be many sunrises in your life. I am nearing the last of the many sunsets of mine. I don’t know what kind of world in which you will grow up. The obvious answer is that today it is full of meanness and stridency and hate. But a study of history shows that it has always been that way. There has been evil around since original sin. The difference is that today’s technology allows us to spread vitriol more rapidly and at a higher decibel level which invites equally venomous responses.
Several centuries ago, the British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” That is where you come in. Do good things.
You don’t have to invent a cure for cancer or write a concerto or become President of the United States, although any of these would be a singular achievement that would make your family very proud. You just need to make a difference, a positive difference. Your family will be equally as proud.
Look no further than your father and your grandfather. I can’t imagine how many lives they have positively impacted over their careers as public school teachers and coaches. And you want to think that those they have influenced have in turn made a difference in someone else’s life.
But it can be even simpler. Your great-grandmother made it a point to call every clerk in every establishment she shopped by the name on their nametag. She gave them dignity and you could see the positive reaction it had. At her going-home service, it was noted how many dignitaries she had met in her life – presidents and senators, CEOs and the like – and she was no different with them than with the person who checked her out at the grocery store. She was kind to everyone.
No matter how complicated your world becomes – and it is bound to be more complicated than mine – there will always be a place in it for kindness and courtesy and thoughtfulness and respect. “Thank you” will never go out of style.
Believe in God. I can’t imagine life on this earth is all there is. Science will continue to unlock the mysteries of our universe but I think those discoveries will be further proof of God’s magnificence. The more you see, the more you can believe.
I don’t expect to be around to see how you turn out but I am confident you will do just fine. You have parents who will provide you love and security and stability and two sets of grandparents who will no doubt dote on you. You will have a big brother to look out for you. Life has started out good. I have a feeling it is going to get even better. That is as it should be. Welcome to the world, Noah. I am glad you are here.
•Dick Yarbrough is a four-time winner of the Best Humor Column by the Georgia Press Association. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.