Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

by Henry Lane Hull

Early in life, I learned that my beloved parents thought they had a constitutional right to grandchildren. They often spoke with great enthusiasm of the day when I would present them with their first grandchild. Alas, sadly, they did not live to see that happy occasion.

I would tell them that, quite simply, I had never met the right person, reminding them that my mother also told me when I did meet her, I would know it immediately. 

On the latter score, she was correct, for 15 minutes after meeting my Good Wife, I knew she was the one for me. The reciprocal realization took a little longer for her, but in her own good time, she agreed.

Nine months later, we committed matrimony, and 15 months later, the first B.E. arrived on the scene, followed 15 months later by the second B.E., thereby bringing to a close the first B.E.’s reign as an only child. In describing those two events in columns of the time, I referred to the arrivals as Blessed Events, which I shortened to B.E.

The intervening years passed quickly, and last September, I wrote about the addition of another B.E. in the person of the Elder B.E.’s bride, thus bringing the count to three. Now, a year later, the count is up to four with the birth of their own B.E., a daughter, who arrived last Saturday, putting me in a newfound patriarchal state as a grandfather, a role that my own father never experienced.

The Elder B.E. asked me how I liked being a grandfather. I replied that I had to become accustomed to being married to a grandmother. He responded correctly that I looked like a grandfather, but my Good Wife being several light-years younger, did not quite look the mark.  I agreed. What else could I say?

Happily, true to her nature, the party in question has found that observation to be amusing.  During the pandemic, I have let my beard grow—but kept it trimmed—which perhaps has contributed to his noting the grandfatherly impression.

On many occasions when the B.E.s were small, folks would ask me how many grandchildren I had, to which I always replied, “none,” without further comment or explanation. I am pleased that the new arrival enables me to offer a positive response, should the inquiry be repeated.

When the first B.E. was born, our good friend, the late Ann Deitz, took one look at him and said, “I love a baby with hair.” This time, she would love his daughter as well. The hair gene clearly carried on to the new generation. In that regard, I see much of my father in the personality of the Elder B.E., confirming that indeed genetics, like history, is a repetitive process.

The newest B.E. will be the sixth generation of our family to live in the Northern Neck, but the fifth generation, consisting of the first two B.E.s, was the only one to be born here, both members of that generation being natives of Kilmarnock from the good old days when our local hospital still delivered babies.

As my Good Wife and I assume our new matriarchal and patriarchal roles, I am keeping in mind what a friend and former student has written, precisely that life is the greatest gift of all, for it is the one upon which every other gift rests. I do not claim any grandfatherly constitutional right to the privilege that has been bestowed with the arrival of this newest B.E., but rather I welcome her with a heart full of love, as well as the resolve to try not to impose too much news about her on everyone I meet.