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Four Generations of Hopeful Fathers

Author: Lynn Lockhart
Year: Hope

Just over thirty-eight years ago, my second child was born. Having had our first son a little under two years before, we thought we had kind of got a hold on this parenting thing. But then something happened.

It was sudden and unexpected for the parents in the room, but thankfully not for the midwives. This baby boy entered the world with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck. He was blue all over and very still. They quickly gathered him up and took him into an adjoining room. It was not anything that we had any time to really understand or even to respond to. This was a different script from one we thought was going to be familiar. I just looked at the midwife who stayed in the room with us and asked,

‘Will he be alright?’ I will never forget her reply as she looked at me and said in a soft Irish accent.

‘We will just wait and see.’

At that moment I knew what she was saying, I knew why she had said it that way. Then all that was left in the room to push back against the fear, was to hope.

We were all ok a few minutes later when the pink version of my son reappeared. Now he is a father himself. Four years ago we all hoped for him and his new wife at their wedding. Two years ago they had my grandson. Now we hope the three of them will be alright, as the marriage ended and this lovely wee boy is trying to make sense of his divided world.

My son has a universe full of hopes for his son.

I thought that my hope for this new generation would be that the world might just not descend into some unrecognisable nightmare. I might be old or perhaps gone by the time my grandchildren are in their twenties. Will I have at that time, any words of hope?

Instead, I just hope each passing day is carried forward by the hopes of their parents, and in that collective shared worldwide parenting experience, this might be enough to make it through.

Hope today seems harder.

When I thought about their future, I started thinking about the past. I was born a few months before the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember my father telling me he and my mother were very frightened. The world hoped, and I am sure many also prayed. Mum and Dad had a moment of wondering if bringing a child into this world was a good idea.

Of course, that threat to humanity passed, and I grew up oblivious to the multiple warheads pointing in my direction, as football, zooming around on a yellow chopper bike, and watching men set foot on the moon, provided plentiful distractions.

Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I think hope was easier.

My two grandfathers experienced the war. One in London and stationed on the coastline of the English Channel, trying to shoot down the “flying bombs” as they headed for the capital. The other was captured at Dunkirk and spent five hard years as a prisoner of war. I am sure they both hoped, every day, for it all to end. In time It did.

These past hopes and lessons seemed to have been forgotten as wars rage on once again.

I want to believe, that as in the stories of these four generations, hope will survive.