"And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:" (Genesis 5:3)
"The night was humid." You film buffs out there will remember that as a famous line from the Billy Crystal movie, "Throw Momma From the Train". I will explain that later in this piece! He may want to shoot me after this, but this article is in honor of my son Jon's birthday. On Tuesday, July 30, 2013, Jonathan David Baril (much better known as "Jon Baril") will be 30-years-old. That's a very sobering thought for me. I was 28 (almost 29) at the time of Jon's birth. In many ways, it feels like "only yesterday".
The title comes from a line often used by my late Aunt Milly. Aunt Milly and I are alike in some ways as she was quite a correspondent. She wrote lots and lots of letters and cards. She typed the letters on an old fashioned typewriter and she hand addressed greetings in cards. My Uncle Raymond died in 1972. Not long after Raymond's death, Aunt Milly converted to become a Jehovah's Witness. I guess she was given quite a sales pitch by them, and was told that if she wanted to live in a perfect earth with Raymond for all eternity, she'd need to join, and she did! My brother, sister, and I were very close to Aunt Milly and Uncle Raymond. They were a lot older than our parents, and my Dad's parents were dead. Aunt Milly and Uncle Raymond really did the role of paternal grandparents for us. They were much more like a Grandpa and Grandma to me than an Uncle and Aunt. We were very surprised when she joined the Witnesses because she loved Christmas and she love birthdays. It must have been hard for her to give up these special days. (Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas nor birthdays.) Despite that, each year there was a "sort of" Christmas card from Aunt Milly to the family in the mail. It was a general "thinking of you" card with a nice note. And, for each birthday, she'd send a "thinking of you" card, and in the card she always wrote, "Thinking of you near your day". Jon's actual birthday is tomorrow, so "Thinking of you near your day" seems quite appropriate.
I vividly remember my own 30th birthday. It seems like just a few years ago. My mother went to a lot of trouble to order me a special, expensive birthday cake from a gourmet bakery. When she brought the cake home, she was horrified. It was small! It was humorously small! The cake also was quite a heavy cake with some kind of jam in it. It was like some kind of expensive tart dessert, but certainly not a birthday cake! My mother was so embarrassed! I actually just got a big kick out of it, and we all kind of laughed about it! All these years later, I vividly remember that! I also vividly remember the night Jon was born. Jon loves films and in fact is quite an expert about movies and the motion picture industry. So, "the night was humid" fits here, and the night Jon was born was hot and humid. This month has been one of the hottest Julys on record in Massachusetts, but July 1983 was hotter. My wife Mary Ann had gone nine days overdue. Jon was our first child. That month was an emotional roller coaster. My brother Eddie had died unexpectedly on July 8. The family was confused and devastated. Throughout Mary Ann's pregnancy, my mother had a premonition. She told us many times that an inner voice was telling her, "One life is coming and one life is going." I had not really taken my mother seriously; yet her premonition came to pass. Jon was born just eleven months after we were married. David Milley who performed the ceremony strongly discouraged any couples from having kids for at least two years after the wedding. Initially, he was pretty disgusted with us. Listen, I really don't think it's a good idea for newlyweds to have kids for at least a couple of years, but in this case, it really was God ordained as it greatly helped my parents in their times of terrible grief to have a new grandson. I don't know whatever happened to Maura Tomaso, the childbirth instructor we had, but I was a typical "guy" in those classes, and Maura frequently made sport of some of my comments and questions! Mary Ann and I went to the Norwood Hospital very early on Saturday July 30 and were there all day. When the girls were born, we used the hospital's "cool new birthing room" which had "all the comforts of home" but for Jon, Mary Ann was in an old-fashioned labor ward, and she delivered in the very sterile and medical delivery room. Well, she did not deliver until after 10 p.m. Around 6, I went home for about an hour and a half. I still remember that I made myself English muffins and peanut butter and I had a cup of coffee. I also called a friend and asked for prayer that Mary Ann's labor would be over soon. Jon's birth was fascinating and overwhelming for me. It was wondrous and amazing. I have no words to describe it. Jon was a very beautiful baby and a very good looking little kid. In those days, there was still a "Father's Waiting Room" leftover from the 1960s. In that room was a chalkboard where proud fathers wrote down the name of their new baby and the weight. I nervously and excitedly wrote down Jon's name and weight and drove home. I got up the next morning and taught Adult Sunday School at Christian Life Center church in Walpole right on schedule! That afternoon, my parents came in to "meet" Jon and bond with him. It was a very special time.
There's an episode of Northern Exposure where Holling and Shelley are expecting their first child. He is actually very stressed out about it, because he does not feel like he will do a good job if he has a son. (They end up having a girl.) Honestly, I had the same fear that Holling did. I didn't want Jon to be too much like me. I hoped maybe he'd be like my brother Eddie who had died that month. I'm emotional, and I'm overly sensitive, and I sometimes take things too personally, and I'm unconventional, and (much as some folks don't like me to use this word) I'm eccentric. I also have been known to have a terrible temper. I know the Bible speaks of "temperance" and that's an area I've struggled with. I very much did not want Jon to have these qualities, because I know the hurt, misunderstanding, and rejection they've brought me at times. Well, Jon pretty much has all of 'em! That's genetics for you! He also has a very high I.Q. that he did not inherit from me. Jon taught himself to read when he was very young. He was lots of fun as a toddler. I have shared at times how my mother struggled with deep depression, and I've struggled with deep depression. Well, Jon got that, too.
Please don't misunderstand. I don't want readers to think I don't love Jon or that I am not proud of Jon. I just wished I had not passed these things on to him. Jon very much marches to the beat of a different drummer and is very independent. Sadly, I've heard some people criticize Jon for these qualities, but what they did not understand is that at times I've seen a compassion and a depth of love for needy people that "blew my mind" as they say! When my little grandson Ben was visiting just a few weeks ago, Jon did such a great job relating to him and bonding with him as an uncle...I have to say I was very happy and very moved about that!
Jon works a very simple job and makes little money, though he's got a degree from Emerson. He does not aspire to be some cutthroat guy caught up in the rat race. I know that seems very foolish to a lot of people, but honestly, I can't say as I blame him. Right now, I work a very simple job and make very little money, myself. Yeah, "like father, like son". I'd love to see Jon be a full-time movie critic and get paid for it; or maybe do something for a nonprofit organization where there would not be a lot of pressure for him but where he'd make a big difference in others' lives. Well, Jon's certainly grown now, so I have to leave that to the Lord.
Best regards, Jon. I love you. And, I'm thinking of you near your day.
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