Mike's View- The eyes have it
Editors Note: This column by Mike Robinson is from October 19, 1983. The boy in question, Owen Robinson is now grown up, and a successful Human Resources Manager.
By Mike Robinson
When we celebrated Owen's first birthday Sunday- he dumped his cake on the high chair, smeared the frosting on his bib and tried to eat his plate.
I didn't mind. A year ago his mother stood outside the hospital afraid for his life and he wasn't even born yet.
He survived the early birth then shook off jaundice, a high bilirubin count that kept him an extra week in the infant care unit. We made daily visits to put our hands through the portholes in the incubator.. We stroked his shoulders and rubbed his tummy and felt his fingers and toes. It was like handling uranium isotopes.
Six months later the ambulance made its urgent run to another hospital. Owen had meningitis. His Dumbo blue eyes would not send back the light we looked for.
In the mornings, as we waited for word on his condition, his mother's face showed the strain. Around her eyes was a bruised look that hurt me to see. I learned again that pain in those you love is harder to bear than my own. But he beat that illness too, with help from doctors and the prayers of many mothers who heard of his plight. His sisters gave us hope, not only in their unceasing laughter, but in their quiet simple questions, their calm assumption that he would return.
Now, he's king of the carpets. His mother's eyes have that look I look for every morning, the one she got from generations of Norwegian wives, and at least one Cornish woman.
Her daughters' have it, too.
As she watches them romp through the yard, she leans on the Dutch door, and I see something in those eyes no chromosomes could explain.
I noticed it years ago. She would sit on hillsides, arms wrapped around her knees, as the sun came up over Mt. Adams, spilling creamy light on the Cascades. It was a faraway look, an explorer's look, and I praised her for it. She was a watcher, her spirit tuned to the small movements of leaves, the textures of earth and sky. Just another Taurus, I told her.
But something else in her eyes now tells me I may have missed the point. She was watching the world, all right, but she was waiting for something.
At barely three years old, she told her mother, "I want to be a House Woman."
It is a hard thing, these days, to let that be enough.
Yet she has done it. She has shrugged off the current clap-trap about women and men, aiming herself like an ocean liner for a distant port. Other times I have compared her with a tugboat, seeing her determination, her single-mindedness, her steady unswerving way.
But my metaphor was wrong. She doesn't care for boats. She's an earthling.
That look has nothing to do with oceans. It is the blue wisdom that comes from getting where you wanted to go.
I don't pretend to know if women are meant for this. I leave that to women themselves. But this woman has made her choice, and for her, most of all, Owen's first birthday is an affirmation.
As for me, I'm the guy who gave him the turned-up nose and the kiddy car. He's only a year old, not even walking yet. I guess it looks a little foolish. But after a year like this one, a father's entitled.
On this birthday, I got just what I wanted.