Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, July 23, 2003

A new beginning — twice

By David Shapiro

Sunday was one of those blissful days when life reveals its exquisite symmetry.

My wife, Maggie, and I were privileged to attend as Gilbert and Bessie Fooks of Waialua got together with their five children, six grandchildren and a whole lot of friends from around the world to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and renew vows of shared commitment.

Late that night, our daughter, Treena, gave birth to our second grandchild, an 8-pound, 7-ounce little girl named Sloane Leah Eris Cameron Shapiro.

(What, she and Dan were expecting triplets and no like waste any of the names they thought up?)

The bookending of such blessed events at opposite ends of the life cycle swelled our appreciation of the splendid possibility that exists in this world.

The Fooks celebrated a half-century journey together that began when they left the University of Hawai'i for Connecticut in 1953 for what would become a lifetime of travel and exploration in service to the worldwide network of schools for U.S. military dependents.

On their trip back East, they stopped in San Francisco to elope. Over the next 50 years, they raised a family with diverse personalities and interests while living in several parts of Asia and Europe.

The Fooks used vacation time to travel extensively in the continental United States — and to refresh their roots in Hawai'i, where they retired a decade ago to indulge passions from flower arranging to playing with grandchildren who hum Mozart while doing their homework.

Watching the pair still interact easily and fondly after all these years, you couldn't help but believe there's a lot to be said for sharing a life with one partner and growing old together.

Especially compelling was the way they combined commitment to one another with grand adventure. Too many couples regard these as separate and conflicting things, which is one reason so few make it to a 50th anniversary.

Young Sloane arrived at 10:40 p.m. with boisterous wails from the delivery room as my 7-year-old grandson, Corwin, and I waited out the intense final hour of labor on a hospital lanai.

My only job was to keep Corwin conscious long enough to meet his new sibling, but I failed miserably. He had been awake since his mother started having signs of labor at 6 a.m., and he was fading fast.

As we talked about how his life was about to change — for the better, I argued, but he had his doubts — he drifted off to sleep and was lost for the night.

I felt awful that he missed out on the initial bonding of his newly constituted family because I was insufficiently entertaining, but was relieved to see him warm up to the situation and his new sister when I took him back to the hospital the next day.

People kept asking me before the birth if I was excited, and I had to admit I wasn't. I try to live on an even keel and just don't do excitement.

But there's something about holding a newborn grandchild for the first time — stroking her beatific face, searching mouth and wiggling fingers, realizing that she's forever part of you and you're forever part of her — that will tip anybody's keel.

I went to sleep Sunday night with one wish for my grandchildren, Corwin and Sloane: When they mark their big milestones 75 years from now, I hope they'll look back at lives well-lived with as much satisfaction as Gilbert and Bessie Fooks.

David Shapiro can be reached at dave@volcanicash.net.