The ups, downs and travels of summer

semerson@macon.comJuly 8, 2013 

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"It's a cliche' to start a column with a quotation. But ... whatever."
- Seth Emerson

Let me start off by apologizing for being in and out all summer, and if you can indulge me, explain why. Many of you already know that my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world on May 15. He's a good, healthy boy, who still requires a lot of work. Unfortunately, that's not the only personal event that has taken me away from work.

One year and one day ago, Walter Gerst gave away his only daughter to marry me. Walter was never much for ceremony, so he and his daughter laughed as they came down the aisle, and he wasn't much for words, so he declined to give a wedding toast. He didn't need ceremony or the spotlight, he just needed his daughter to be happy. He lived his life to provide for his family.

Walter passed away last month, after a short but spirited battle with cancer. His family was by his side. It was too soon a departure, but another Ralph Waldo Emerson quote applies here: "It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." In his final year, Walter was able to see his daughter get married, and to meet his only grandson. In fact, one of his last acts was to claim he was healthy enough to make the drive down from Michigan to Athens in order to meet his grandson. In a way, he may have known time was of the essence.

I've spent much of the summer in Michigan, as our family monitored, then mourned, then prepared for the next phase in life. Walter's wife of 42 years, Doris, has moved down to Athens to be near her daughter and grandson. And her son-in-law, who is eternally grateful. As I write this, grandma is holding her grandson, Alexander, so I can work.

"Your Dad is working, see?" she is saying to Alex, unaware that I am quoting her.

Life is about change, the kind you plan, and the kind you don't. Your success in life is dictated by how you respond to change. And with family, all things are possible, so I think we'll be all right.

Now, back to work.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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