From Chicken Soup for the Father & Daughter Soul

Struggle and Celebration

The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.


Where were you on February 21, 1976? How about the same date eighteen years later?

In my case, the answer to these questions is identical. I was at Grant Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. During both visits there were no broken bones to repair, wounds to mend or X-rays required. In fact, I left the hospital in the same condition I went in, perfectly healthy and blissfully happy! That was also true for my daughter, Shannon, who went with me. The first visit was the day Shannon was born. The second was to celebrate her eighteenth birthday.

I had been searching for a unique gift. The idea of returning with Shannon to the place she was born was my solution. The folks at the hospital loved the idea, and the party was on. They provided a cake and located two nurses still on staff who had helped bring my daughter into the world. I had cards made, with a newborn picture of Shannon next to one taken for her high-school graduation, which was coming up in the spring. Below the pictures it read:

On Feb. 21, 1976, at Grant Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, Shannon Leigh Snider was born. Today she celebrates her 18th birthday. Please accept this flower in honor of the occasion, and may God bless you and your child.

Jerry Snider
“Shannon’s Dad”

The cards and pink carnations were delivered to seven new mothers whose children now shared a birthday with Shannon. I said a prayer, we sang “Happy Birthday” and cut the cake. A local TV station recorded the event for the evening newscast.

“Proof,” I said, “all the news isn’t bad.”

We had one more stop to make before the party ended. In the next room someone else was celebrating a birthday, too. Above a glass bubbled incubator hung a sign with pictures of hearts and rainbows: “Happy Birthday to me. I’m two months old.”

The baby in the bubble, born prematurely, weighed only two pounds and was not much bigger than the hand of the nurse who held her. Eighteen years ago, children born in similar circumstances were not given much hope for survival. Shannon and I watched the struggle. Machines and monitors connected to the baby by wires and hoses, clicked and beeped. The little girl opened her eyes and wiggled her arms just enough to make us feel like she knew we were there. The nurse continued to gently stroke and cuddle her.

Shannon looked so worried. I soothed, “Science and technology can’t invent anything more important than that nurse’s hands.” To the nurse I said, “Those might look like your hands, but they really belong to God.”

Shannon and I hugged, knowing that in eighteen years this baby girl would be back to celebrate, too, with cards and carnations!

Jerry Snider

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