Confessions of a 50-Something Dad: A birth and a death

I didn’t become a father for the first time while in my 50s. The first of my three sons, Brandon, came along almost 26 years ago when I was only 29. It seems like such a long time ago. But I’ll never forget those hours on an April afternoon in 1995.

Brandon was born at 2:15 p.m. after his mother went through many hours of labor. But he arrived in perfect condition and I was a very proud father.

After he was born, I talked to my dad on the phone to give him the good news. It was odd, and I sensed something wasn’t quite right. I would learn later that his dad, my grandpa, had died earlier in the day at age 84. He didn’t tell me in the moment of my joy over Brandon’s birth but he shared the news with me that evening. Three days later, we would all be at his funeral.

When I would go visit my Grandpa Fuqua in the care home where he was living in those last months of his life, he would talk about his unborn great-grandson. We didn’t know the sex of the baby, but he alway referred to him as a boy. I passed it off as my aging grandfather perhaps getting confused, but with what happened on the day of his death, it makes you wonder if something had come to him in a dream.

You see, my grandpa died almost exactly 12 hours before Brandon was born. This information was shared with the officiant who delivered the funeral message. Little 3-day-old Brandon was the center of attention to all of those who were in attendance.

As someone in my family who collects genealogical information, I came to be in possession of my Granda Fuqua’s funeral book. Within its pages was a typed script of the funeral message delivered that morning by the Rev. Robert Berlie at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bertrand, Nebraska.

To help me recall what was said, I’ll quote from the funeral book:

“Today, in celebrating Frank’s life, we know that he has passed into a true life, Heaven.

“We also have another vivid example of how even in death, life continues to go on.

“It was at 2:25 a.m. Tuesday morning that Frank passed away.

“At 2:15 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, just twelve hours later, Frank’s great-grandson made his entry into Brad’s family.

“Although the timing may seem unfair, your new son, Brad, can remind you of your grandfather each time you see him.

“As he grows in years, you’ll be able to tell him about his great-grandfather.

“It will be a cherished story that he’ll often want retold.”

After the funeral, someone shared with me their thought that they’d bet that during those 12 hours after my grandpa died and before my son was born, he taught Brandon what he needed to know. He was passing the torch.

A few days earlier when we were still at the hospital of Brandon’s birth, I made an on-the-spot decision while filling out his birth certificate paperwork. The original plan was to give him “Eugene” — the name of my father — as his middle name. Instead, I thought it was appropriate to give him the middle name of “Franklin” after my grandfather.

The pastor was correct about the story being retold not only with Brandon and others over the years, but here within the words of this blog.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News and spends what little free time he has with his wife and two young sons. Do you have a fun story to share about your kids or grandkids? Email it to me at [email protected] and it just might end up in a future post).

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