"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Congratulations, Granddad! 17 years ago

Erin Ann is 17 today, with Abby, left, and Max, on my birthday Jan. 5
"Congratulations, Granddad!"
It was late at night, in a dark period of my life, 17 years ago today.
Then my daughter Dallas Bell called with those words.
Thus I learned of Erin Ann Bell, my first grandchild, born in Durham, North Carolina.
My life changed that night, much of it because of her, and in the years since.
I've held her in almost one arm, babysitting. I travel to see my grandkids (and kids).
Most recently, on perhaps my most memorable birthday ever, talking and joking with her and her brother Max, on the way to eat in Amarillo.
I don't get to spend a lot of time with her and now my other seven grandchildren, but I treasure each moment, wishing there was more, witnessing them growing up, enjoying their individuality.
I can go on and on about Erin's strength of character, talent, intelligence, goodness, interior and exterior beauty, sense of humor, and independent. I'm thankful my genes are partially responsible, knowing that her mother's mother and other grandparents share that influence and pride. I'm most thankful for her parents whose love and character have nurtured and guided her in uncounted ways.
All of that went through my head and heart recently at my birthday. 
Visiting Erin, sister Abby and brother Max (and oh yes, her parents), in Canyon, Texas, this month, I was honored with a birthday dinner, cake and them singing "Happy Birthday," with humor.
I know where the humor comes from. My brother Jerry in Lubbock  says we got our talent from our father, Terrence Miller Clark. We got out dry sense of humor from our mother, Francis Faye Culp Clark. I don't know that it's genetic, but it is certainly passed down, and Erin, and all my grandchildren, have it, from their great-grandmother.
So excuse me while I brag a little more. Her views on the strengths and weaknesses of her education--coaches teaching and ignoring history, and sports getting funding while music and art have to raise funds--show depth of thinking and more.
But academically, she's immersed in high quality, with higher grades than I ever got. Erin is taking pre-calc, chorus, debate, college prep English, Spanish, physics, dual credit world history, and also spends an advance  class period repairing the school's computers.
College? Perhaps Texas or Texas A&M or Michigan, but, having traveled widely, she also is thinking about Germany, where she could get free tuition.
Influence? She has influenced me in ways I don't even understand.
So proud. Happy birthday, Erin.

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