Early in the morning, 31 years ago, Jacob wanted to be born.
It took much of the day.
He was born September 10, 1981.
One time when he was a teenager, I got a call that he was being transported to Duluth, MN, by ambulance with a “head injury” from a ski hill community a fair distance away. I went to the hospital to wait for his arrival. I was very afraid. I did not know the nature of his injury. While I waited I preregistered him with the birthdate of 9/11/1981. Turned out, he greeted me with a smile and a joke as he was transported from the ambulance to the ER. His injury was minor.
All the years since then Jacob and I have bantered about which day is actually his birthday, the one I told the hospital that day when I was afraid, or the one he was actually born when I was very joyful.
November 1, 2011, a wee bit less than ten months ago, Paul Lawrence died.
We are staying, here in Kells, County Kerry, Ireland, in a home that was imagined by Paul Lawrence and then built by Paul and Martha and their children and some others. It was built in the 70’s, at a time when the Irish construction industry was building ranch homes. Paul did not want a ranch. He wanted a house that was consistent with traditional Ireland construction and, at the same time was contemporary in design. With the help of an imaginative architect he achieved both. It worked then . . . and it still does today.
We are grateful to Paul’s son, Tad Lawrence and his partner in life, Vicky Seelen, for allowing us to be in the “brilliance” of this space for three weeks of our lives.
Paul Lawrence was the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Organizational Behavior Emeritus at Harvard Business School. In the obituary you can find about him on line, there is this paragraph about his professional vision:
During the past decade, when he was well into his eighties, Lawrence dedicated himself to the development of a new unified theory of human behavior, based in large part on his close reading of the works of Charles Darwin, particularly his book The Descent of Man, a volume that Lawrence said was too often neglected by modern readers. As part of that research agenda, in 2002 he co-wrote with his longtime HBS colleague Nitin Nohria Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices. In addition to Darwin, the book surveys a vast amount of literature from the natural and social sciences — from Aristotle to Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson — to come up with a theory based on the premise that “four primary innate drives…are hard wired in the brains of all humans”—the drives to acquire (the instinctive push to obtain things necessary to ensure continuity and reproductive success), bond (the push to connect and relate to our fellow human beings), comprehend (human beings’ need to understand the world around them) and defend (the desire to ensure that what is acquired is not lost). According to Lawrence’s son, William (“Tad”), of Roslindale, Mass., “My father was a sociologist who was interested in organizations, not so much as businesses but as the central manifestation of the human cooperative venture. This was nowhere more evident than in Driven.”
And this one about his more personal life:
Lawrence’s reach extended far beyond his professional life. A longtime resident of Cambridge, Mass., he, along with his wife of 63 years, Martha (Stiles), was actively involved in–indeed passionate about–community affairs, including leadership roles at the Cambridge Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports a broad range of local agencies through financial grants and technical assistance. To commemorate their community activism, in 2009 a plaque was placed near the Cambridge home where the couple resided for many years, naming the intersection of Foster and Willard Streets the “Martha Stiles and Paul R. Lawrence Square.”
It is fitting that their names be linked together. Not only were they a team in their community work, but their marriage was a model to many. Lawrence’s granddaughter once wrote in a letter to him that included these words: “What you have shared with Grandma is the most beautiful and pure love that I have ever seen. I cannot describe what kind of an impact it has had on me. It gives me comfort.” And before work-life balance became part of the vernacular, Lawrence made family matters a top priority. “He was able to do all that he did professionally and still do all the rest exceptionally well,” observed his son. “He was an exceptional father who always sought ways to support and nurture without being judgmental. One of his granddaughters described him as the most moral person I know. You are considerate, careful, and extraordinarily kind. Thank you for showing me that these qualities are essential.”
Paul is missed by family. And those who knew him. His heritage of wisdom is savored.
We gave thanks for every good thing in their lives . . . and the harder things too.
I asked for the blessing to be upon us of the ever-changing view of the Dingle Peninsula.
The Dingle Peninsula is perpetually cloaked in a playful wash of light and then shadow and then mist and then clear and on and on.
It is at once soft and mysterious, inviting and distant, sensuous and earthy.
Thank you Kelly’s.
Thank you Paul and Martha.
Thank you Tad and Vicky.
Thank you God.
Some of you will remember earlier posts that referred to a quote from a man who, when asked: “What is the way with you?” replied, “I’m stumbling along among the immensities, you know the immensities of birth and death.”
Today as I write to you of this house and the death of Paul Lawrence (who I never met) I am astoundingly grateful for the birth of Jacob Martin Garrison.
September 10, 1981.
September on the Island (Madeline Island in Lake Superior, accessible by ferry from Bayfield, Wisconsin) was redolent with hues of approaching fall that September day.
The first run of the ferry to the mainland was, oh, I don’t know, maybe 6:30 or 7:00 am. The mainland is where the hospital was, just a couple dozen miles south of Bayfield in Ashland.
Kandi’s labor began a good while before dawn.
Jacob wanted to be born.
Because he was to be our fourth, we had decided a home birth was not wise. Our nurse midwife this time was Jan. She planned to meet us at the birthing center at Memorial Medical Center in Ashland.
Labor intensified enough, still in the dark of pre-dawn, for us to believe it wise to call for an early “unscheduled ferry.”
Phil Schneeberger was the pilot.
He met us at the dock and shepherded us across the deep waters.
We drove easily to the hospital.
We got situated in the birthing center, Jan with us.
The labor of your birth came to a halt.
You were ready, but not yet.
We waited some more.
Morning passed into afternoon.
In those days we lived in the parsonage on Madeline Island part of the week and the rest of the time we lived in a Northland College campus house reserved for the campus minister. I worked at the college part time in addition to serving St. John’s UCC on Madeline as their pastor.
Your mother and I had befriended two Northland students, both named Cathy, Cathy Moser and Cathy Palmer. They used to care for Jennifer and Mark and Noah if we needed a sitter . . . but, mostly they were just great friends who were there for us and with us. I remember them at the Ashland house during part of that day as we waited for your time to be born.
Labor began again.
We went to MMC.
Jan was there with us.
Paul VanPernis, the doc, came when it was time.
You were born into the world by the love and grace and strength and birthing of your mother.
Such a day of new beginning in our lives, and, of course, in yours.
It is a day that was possible because of many who were part of the journey with us. It took your mom, me, your sister and brothers, Phil, the boat captain, Jan, the midwife, Cathy Palmer and Cathy Moser, the hospital folks, Paul, the doc.
It takes a village.
Life is better because of you, Jacob.
I love you.
Stumbling along among the immensities here in Ireland.
It is a very good thing!