During my adolescence, I had a mentor who was also the pastor of the church I attended at the time. I’m not sure if this man realizes how important he is to me or how much he really shaped me and the way I see the world, especially at such a crucial age. I babysat his kids, and I remember him driving me home one evening, and Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” came on the radio. Martin (which is his last name, but I’ve always called him “Martin” since he has always called me “Cosner”) turned up the radio and told me how much he loved the song. I remember him saying that he often thought about the verse in the song that says, “I hear babies cry, I watch them grow, they’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know.” He went on to say that I would learn more about technology as it advances and that one day I would become an adult and realize that the generations younger than me will too grow up to learn more than I’ll know.
This past Saturday, we celebrated Ivy’s first birthday!! I watched my beautiful niece as she ignored every single one of her new toys to play with a water bottle. I wondered what it was about that water bottle that was so fascinating to her. Perhaps it was way the light reflected off the water inside, or that she couldn’t quite grasp how to turn the cap to get the water out of the bottle, or maybe she just liked the crinkle sound the bottle made as she squeezed it, either way, I could have simply given her a water bottle for her birthday, and it would have topped the gifts Neil and I actually gave her.
I watched as she interacted with her great aunt and uncle, her great grandmother, her grandparents, and every single other relative that was there to celebrate Ivy’s life and her first trip around the sun. I watched the joy on all of their faces and how it could have been anybody’s party, and Ivy would have surely stolen the show! Especially with her large grin that captured my heart every time she flashed it in my direction (and when it wasn’t directed towards me.)
I remembered that line, the one my mentor had discussed with me on one of the nights he drove me home after babysitting –
I thought of all of the possibilities Ivy has in front of her, how maybe she’ll help change the world in some way, perhaps she’ll discover a cure for a rare disease, maybe she’ll help reverse climate change, or perhaps she’ll touch a bitter heart who can’t see past the color of her skin, maybe she’ll be the one to breakthrough because it is impossible to look at Ivy and not see the light that radiates from her soul. Her mother has that same light, and while Caitlyn might not be her biological mother, it is impossible to walk away from Caitlyn without taking a little piece of her with you. Caitlyn was 13 when I met her. Around the same age I was when Martin had the most significant influence on my life, and just like Ivy, Caitlyn stole my heart rather quickly. It’s not surprising that Ivy will inherit some of those same qualities simply by being in Caitlyn’s presence. Now I get to watch Caitlyn’s baby grow up into the amazing woman I already know she’ll be, and I’m eternally grateful.
It’s funny sometimes how life circles back around. Twenty-three years ago, I had that conversation with Martin, and I had no idea who Caitlyn was. She was only two years older than her daughter is now. Ivy wasn’t even a figment of anyone’s imagination yet, but when I watched her, I couldn’t help but think of my mentor and how he was right. This little girl is going to learn so much in the years that lie ahead of her. Right now, I’m blessed enough to be part of the village that gets to raise her. I will help teach her to leave nothing but footprints behind when she visits beaches and forests, and I will help show her and guide her through her life. One day, when she’s older, she’ll teach me how to use the latest piece of technology or a newly discovered branch of science, or maybe, simply, as she already has, what a wonderful world it truly is.
Who in your life makes you think “What a wonderful world?”
Love & life lessons,