If I Needed You


Yesterday was Jerry’s birthday, the end of a long month of family birthdays.

Out of 16 members of our immediate family (Jerry and I, our four daughters, three sons-in-law, six grandkids, and one grandson-in-law) nine of us are blessed with birthdays in the merry month of May.

(Actually, I suspect the really merry month was September, when the kids went back to school. “Another cup of coffee, hon'?”)

Whatever, every year it’s like a second Christmas season, except this one doesn’t happen on one day, it’s spread from the third to the 24th, with three on the 15th alone! Generally by the time we get to Jerry’s, everyone is tired of revelry, and broke anyway, so not much attention is paid and then we all feel guilty and have to redeem ourselves on Father’s Day.

You can always count on Kelly, however, to make the day.

Not that she was particularly cooperative this year. Sunday I invited her and Sterling over for the birthday supper Monday night but—egad—Monday night is Wal-Mart night! How could Wal-Mart night have not been foremost in my conciousness!?

“It’s OK, Kel,” I said. “Just wrap your present for Dad and make him a card. Do you want to sing the morning song for him with me?”

“What time?” she asked dubiously.

“About 4:30 would be good,” I teased.

“Mo-om!” she groaned, stamping her foot. “We don’t sing at 4:30 in the morning!”

“Well, as soon as you get here then,” I said.

Monday morning we had important meetings starting at 8:00, so Jer was out the door scarce before I could plant a birthday kiss on the cheek, just as the whippoorwill was ending his morning serenade at Michael’s back window in Barnabas House.

At 6:35 I hear a knock on the door and Kelly is standing there in pajamas and slippers, clutching her present and the card she’d made for Dad.

“Sorry, babe, we missed him, but let me get a picture of you for him,” I said. Kelly balked  at this but the camera was handy so I didn’t detain her for long and soon off she pedaled, up the hill and back to bed.

When I read the card she’d made, I knew we had another masterpiece on our hands.

Kelly’s cards are always very creative, often touching, and each a true original. They usually manage to sum up with a request for the recipient to assist Kelly with managing some important aspect of her life.

Happy Birthday Dad
72 is a cool age
love you
very much
with all of
my heart and
my life too
I want my dad to be happy.
Jerry Wayland Horton
May 24th
72 years ago
Your mom my grandma had a miracle is you Dad then you
were my mom’s birthing coach
got me out that
is why
how much Sterling loves
you a lot and so do I
to be my Dad forever
when you walk me
down the aisle
my wedding day
I want to marry Sterling
can you and Mom give me away to Sterling he will
take care of me I won’t forget to …(can’t make out last word.)

The “birthing coach” part is true. Jerry speaks often and eloquently about how very hard he worked as my birthing coach, fetching cups of ice, rubbing my back and feet, and performing other acts of mercy and kindness over the long hours of labor, which left him completely exhausted and in severe need of liquid refreshment.

But I digress.

Jerry and I went on to have a lovely evening together, just the two of us.

I’d picked blackberries and made a proper pie for him, and it turned out very well indeed. He opened his presents, over which he professed great delight—none more than Kelly’s and her card—and we picked up the guitar and sang a few tunes together just for old time’s sake, and learned a new one—Townes van Zandt’s “If I Needed You.”

It was a sweet evening.

We do need each other, so much. We’re glad our girl has her place in the world that we’d dreamed of, and that Monday night is Wal-Mart night, and not to be messed with.

We are secure in her love, and in each other’s, and who could ask for more?