Kennedy’s 13th birthday stirs memories of his arrival


This past Saturday afternoon I looked at beautiful Bear Creek Lake, allowing my mind and my soul to bask in the beauty of it . . . the absolute “blood pressure-lowering,” loveliness of God’s creation. This beauty is so close to home I’m afraid most of us take it for granted. As I looked at the rippling water framed by trees swaying back and forth in the March wind, I encountered peace that promptly made its way to my heart.

I thanked God for creating such beauty for us to enjoy; and I thanked Him for our grandchildren, both of whom were waiting in one of the cabins along the water’s edge. Both are now teenagers. Granddaughter Anna turned 18 last November. I was at this beautiful place because our grandson was having his 13th birthday celebration here. “Aunt Mimi” and I wanted to enjoy a visit with him before his party guests arrived. 

Before we could get out of the van, Kennedy was there asking if we needed help getting to the cabin. He was also real interested in the container of his favorite cookies (“fun-fetti” cookie bars) that I handed to him. I looked at this young man, 5 feet 10 inches tall, walking along with us. For a moment I wasn’t walking beside a beautiful lake towards a picture-perfect cabin. I rode my time machine back to a hospital nursery window 13 years before, when Ruble and I saw our grandson for the first time. 

Aunt Mimi had walked with five-year-old “big sister” Anna to the nursery window and they were already happily welcoming our newest family member. His daddy was helping the nurse get him ready to put in the little bassinet that would be his home for a short time, giving his mother time to rest before she would hold him, cuddle him, and tell him how much we all loved and welcomed him.

Anna held up two stuffed lions for her brother to see. PaPaw Ruble had bought one at the hospital gift shop for her to give her brother. There were two lions in the gift shop, one with a yellow collar and one with a blue one. Anna had a hard time deciding which one to pick. She settled on the blue collar for her new brother. PaPaw paid for it and she carried it to the waiting room. She stashed it behind her bag of toys she had brought to play with while we waited. When her dad came to see her before going to the delivery room with her mom, she asked him to go to the gift shop with her. She showed him the lion with the yellow collar. When she came back to the waiting room, she had the lion her daddy bought – the one with the yellow collar. Smiling, she placed it with the blue-collar lion. “Now Brother has two lions!” Anna said with satisfaction.

We impatiently waited to hear he was here and all was well with him and his mother. When that news came, Anna grabbed both lions and away she and Aunt Mimi went! PaPaw and I helped my sweet mama (Nana Kennedy) down the hall to see our new baby boy. What a happy day! 

Kennedy’s 13th birthday was a joyous occasion with lots of friends, family, and most of all, love. Not just from the ones we could see around us, but from those who now love and watch over us from above. Happy birthday, Kennedy Lee Wilemon! God bless you. May this be your best year ever and may your smile always be as bright as it is now.

LaVale Mills is Publisher Emeritus of The Red Bay News.