little public joys

This is such a beautiful write-up by Graham Lettner for mY FaTHer illustrations

Little Public Joys by Graham Lettner 

Marya was born early in July and for that month we stayed with my wife’s

parents. At first, we remained close to home and received many visitors, but

later in the month we made our first outings as a family. First, it was a trip to

the clinic for Marya’s first doctor appointment. A few days later, we delivered

flowers to the nurses at the delivery ward and applied at the registry for Marya’s

birth certificate.

As a new dad, proud to be so and already attached, I didn’t want to carry Marya

about in her detachable car-seat after we arrived at each place. I wanted to hold

her in my arms. Each time after we’d park the car I’d uncover her from under

blankets, unbuckle her, and pick her up to carry her with us.

In doing so I experienced the small, public joys of going about with a newborn.

As we climbed the stairs to the doctor’s clinic, two elderly ladies on their way

out gestured to us to stop. They said, “We want to see your baby—she’s so

small!” And then, aside and to each other, “You hardly ever see one so new.”

As we walked across the hospital parking lot to the main entrance, a man, likely

with grandchildren of his own, intercepted us. “She’s a little button—a little

darling,” he said. “First one? Well then, good luck to you both.”

At the registry office a mother with her own daughter, perhaps two years old,

sat down beside us. “I remember when she would curl up in my arms like that,”

she said. “It’s a special age.”

Invariably, wherever our fledging family went, some small joyful sighting was

made on our behalf.

Almost a year later, I was out grocery shopping on my own; Marya and mom

were together at home. Having just found the last items on my grocery list, I

was headed toward the check-out when I saw a man and woman pushing their

cart up the aisle towards me. Upon the woman’s chest, bundled in black cloth

and unmistakeable in its smallness, was a sleeping baby.

I stopped my cart and asked softly, “How old?”

“Three weeks,” the woman said, smiling. The man smiled, too. Intuitively and

without hesitation I had caught sight of the joy of these two parents with their


“Congratulations,” I said, and I pushed my cart on, eager to get home to Marya

and mom.

Link to Graham’s blog




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