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VOL. 126 | NO. 211 | Friday, October 28, 2011

Dan Conaway

Dan Conaway

Welcome To The World

By Dan Conaway

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7 LBS., 3 OZ., AND A TON OF PROMISE. She looks like me. She looks like her other grandfather. And both grandmothers. And her parents. And both aunts. And a little like Buddha, a lot like Winston Churchill, and a bit like Mike Tyson. And she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve seen since her daddy was born and her aunt before him.

She looks like promise.

Last week, our first grandchild, Campbell Boone Conaway arrived in Memphis, meeting life, light, family and friends for the first time with squints, squeals, whimpers and wonder. When I last saw them that night, Campbell’s tired and smiling mother was pulling on a revitalizing Sonic slush and looking on as Campbell’s quietly awestruck father gingerly held their merged lives in his hands.

All systems were go, the slush ice blue but the baby bright red, this grandfather uncharacteristically silent but the baby healthfully vocal. And all things are possible.

She gives me pause.

She is and always will be greatly loved, and I pause wondering how slashes to programs that have even the smallest chance to bring even a fraction of that love to those born without it can be so heartlessly pursued.

She will be supported, encouraged, educated and cared for in every possible way, and I pause wondering how a society can consider the absence of all of those things in a child’s life to somehow not be that society’s problem, the tragedy in the making not that society’s fault.

She gives me hope.

Unlike the spinners and the spun, the talking heads and the empty-headed echoes of their followers, who constantly tell us we’re handing our problems to our grandchildren, bankrupting another generation with the failures of this one, I’m not buying.

If we broke it, Campbell is going to fix it, not just stare at the pieces like we’re doing lately. If we spilled it, Campbell is going to clean it up, not cry over the mess like the baby she is now and the way we’ve been acting for a while. If we didn’t talk to each other, Campbell is going to start conversations and get grownups to get over themselves and act like grownups.

When my parents were born, automobiles and airplanes were novelties, and radio didn’t exist. When I was born, television was a novelty, and rock ‘n’ roll didn’t exist. When our children were born, computers smaller than freight cars and the Internet were novelties, and cell phones didn’t exist.

When Campbell was born, we received that information via a texted photo simultaneously blowing up on smartphones all over the waiting room, then posted online, and tweeted and emailed from those phones, laptops and tablets within a couple of minutes of her birth.

Campbell’s generation isn’t going to stand still, looking over their shoulders at us and negatively accepting what we left. They’re going to move forward and take us to positive places we’ve never been.

Let’s make sure we raise them that way.

I’m a Memphian, and my granddaughter could change the world.

Dan Conaway is a lifelong Memphian, longtime adman and aspiring local character in a city known for them. Reach him at dan@wakesomebodyup.com.

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