Friday afternoon, Wise Guise founding members Joseph and Palmer Williams became parents. As with all substantial news in the social media era, the revelation of this birth came from a collage in my Instagram feed of two clearly exhausted young parents cradling a small baby in their arms.
I kid, of course. In reality, I had been repeatedly asking for updates from Joseph over the past few months about how things were coming along and if they were ready for their child’s arrival. I texted and tweeted him eagerly Friday, sensing Jack’s entry to our world was near and eagerly waiting for the first details.
And so, to many “Congrats!” and likes, the newest addition the Williams family was born. I’m confident in future weeks we’ll get a post from Joseph and/or Palmer describing the joys of parenthood. Well, maybe we’ll get that. That prediction relies on how much sleep the two will actually get. Speaking from many discussions with friends who already have nurseries in their homes, the roles of young father and mother do not seem to have the requirement of “well-rested” on the list of job duties.
Allow me to get the post party started early and congratulate Jack. Yes, Jack. Don’t Joseph and Palmer deserve congratulations instead? I suppose. I’m expecting they’ve heard and will continue to hear most of that in the coming days. I don’t feel as if that sentiment deserves repeating by yet another voice.
No, instead, I’ll congratulate Jack. Child, you don’t realize it yet (nor can you read this yet), but you have really lucked up. In terms of births, you’ve hit the biological jackpot. Your parents are two of the most loving, caring people I’ve ever known, and the fact they’re now the guardians of your future is cause for true celebration.
I was fortunate in meeting your parents later in life. Unclouded by the uncertainty and vanity of youth, I began chatting with Joseph and Palmer through e-mails in our mid-20s. By that point in your life, Jack, you’ll discover your tolerance for friendship is limited to folks who have the same strange interests you do – and the same heart.
You will discover as you grow older time is only one factor in the formation of relationships, and it is perhaps the least substantial. The most important elements are the principles shared between family and friends. And in your parents, I found a true match of principles: a quest for knowledge, a love for good art (cinema, especially) and a generous spirit toward others.
Does that mean your parents and I agree on everything, Jack? Absolutely not. In fact, on more than one occasion, the Gmail chats between your father and I represent a poor man’s version of the infamous William Buckley/Gore Vidal televised debates of the 1960s and 1970s (your father, Buckley and I, Vidal, naturally).
Those quibbles mean little. Such differences often are when you develop a strong foundation between individuals. No matter how far out our political banter went, our mutual love and respect for one another led us back to common ground. We admired each other’s positions and honestly were interested in the insight being brought to table. When you find friendships like that, you hold on to them and treasure them.
Gmail chats were rather minuscule compared to everything else. Your parents were supportive ears following my mother’s passing. They’ve got behind most of the crazy ideas I’ve had and been eager to hear my voice on various issues. Like all great people, they are those glimmers of light in the darkness life often casts over us all, and I’m forever grateful for that illumination.
Why are especially important to me? Because I named the child in my children’s book “Lessons from a Southern Mother” Jack after your father decided on your name. We had discussed the possibility early on, and when the gender was revealed and Joseph said that was the naming option they were most compelled by, I decided to move forward with that name.
You shouldn’t feel special over that, though. Having a name that inspires a children’s book character is a big deal, for sure, but it’s nowhere near as valuable as having the terrific family you’ve arrived into now. You hit the jackpot, kiddo. Congratulations. My blessing for you is to carry on the tremendous love your parents have for humanity.