Posted by: geolocke | 2015/01/16

Sixteen Years

On this night 16 years ago, one of my grandsons was born. He was not supposed to be born at that time. At 8 weeks premature he only weighed 1 pound – 6 ounces (22 ounces) and he was smaller than a salad plate. My wife and I went to the hospital to see him on what we were certain would be our only chance to see him alive. By the time we arrived at the hospital he was already in the neo-natal ICU. He was in an incubator lying among a tangle of tiny wires and tubes, and a respirator tube was inserted into his little mouth.

We were not allowed to stay for more than just a couple of minutes that night, but those few minutes, spent with him in the soft darkness and the quiet of the neo-natal ward, were far removed from any experience either of us had ever had in a hospital environment. That neo-natal ward was a sacred place. The soft sounds and hushed whispers of the struggle for life, many lives, were all around us. It takes a strength of will and a heart as big as the whole world to work in that environment and I am in utter astonishment and awe at those who work in that ward, protecting some of the most vulnerable of all humanity, and those who choose such work have my utmost respect and appreciation.

We were both shaken by the time we left the hospital. I had so much pain and fear in my heart for the tiny human creature I had just seen, and for his parents. I knew instinctively that there was only one person who I could lay my anguish on. I knew there was a 24 hour chapel at my old Church, an Adoration Chapel, where a consecrated host is exposed for visitors all day and all night. Neither of us had been to a Church in years, but on this night I knew I needed the comfort of the real presence of Christ because nothing else would do. I had intended for us to go straight into the Chapel and pray, but something happened on the way in that I did not count on. Before entering the Adoration Chapel, we turned and entered the Church proper. There we found a statue of the Blessed Mother Mary and we both knelt and began praying.

Up until that point I had no special knowledge of, or devotion to Mary. For all I could remember from my early childhood Sunday School lessons, she was just the mother of Jesus and rode a donkey to Bethlehem. I hate to say it now, but there it is. Still, I somehow knew that before I approached the real presence of Christ, sinful, empty, and so very unworthy as I was, I needed to speak first with his mother. I began to speak to Mary in my heart, asking her to pray for the life of my tiny Grandson and for the comfort of his parents. I then asked her to pray for me, that I might be given the words with which to properly address her son, to ask him to preserve the life of the tiny child I had just left behind.

We then entered the Adoration Chapel and both of us poured out our emotion laden hearts to Christ and to God, asking for the life of that tiny child to be preserved. I do not remember now what all I prayed, and indeed, I do not think I rightfully knew what I was praying at the time. But I do clearly remember offering my life for the life of that child. Now I know that one does not make bargains with God, but I did not think of it as bargaining. I asked for nothing in return. I placed myself entirely at the disposal of God, saying that if he wanted to take my life in exchange for the life of that child, then I would give it up without question or struggle, and I meant it. In the end, as I have come to find out so many times since then, my prayer struggle ended with the realization that the life of that tiny child, and indeed my own life, was completely in the hands of God regardless of what I said or prayed, so I finished my prayer with a humble “Your will be done, Lord.”

Our Grandson did not die that night, nor the next. Several days passed, and then weeks began passing. That little tiny child with all the tubes and wires grew stronger and more alert. One day we were allowed to actually hold him. I was so awe-stricken when I first held my tiny Grandchild. I was also frightened that I would hurt him trying to hold him in my big clumsy hands. More weeks passed and then the day came when he was discharged from the hospital. It was the week before Palm Sunday and for the first time in his tumultuous short life our grandson felt the wind and the sun on his face as he went home with his parents for the very first time.

Today my grandson celebrated his 16th birthday. He has grown up strong and kind. He is a powerful competitor in sports and a faithful friend to those who are in need. He laughs freely at the joys of life and he still sheds tears at the sorrows life can sometimes bring. To look at him you would never suspect that his life began under such tenuous circumstances. He is a joy to be around and his youth-filled presence is felt whenever he enters the room.

Today I also celebrated my 16th re-birthday, because it was on this night all those years ago that I began the long process of turning my life around. I did not realize it then, but I was becoming a cynical mean-spirited person. But the shock of seeing that tiny helpless life, so totally dependent upon the actions of others to keep him alive, made me realize that my life also hung by a thread. It was that very moment that my journey back to Christ had begun. My journey back to the faith of my youth.

Happy Birthday dear Grandson. May we both celebrate this day for years to come, and may God’s will always be done!

Love Papa.



  1. Thank you, George ! Beautiful! Inspiring! Your generosity does not surprise me at all! Xxmarguerita

    Sent from my iPhone



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