SIXTEEN YEARS ago, my granddaughter Clara was born on Thanksgiving. A few days ago, she celebrated her Sweet 16 birthday, and once again we all gave thanks for this beautiful young lady.
She was born in a hospital near Dayton. I remember eating Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital cafeteria and thinking it was the worst Thanksgiving meal I’d ever had. I also remember getting my only speeding ticket while hurrying to the hospital that day. The trooper was heartless.
But we got Clara Dalaney Walton in the deal, so nothing else mattered — not mediocre food, not a traffic citation.
To meet Clara is to fall in love with her. She’s smart, she’s pretty, and she’s an athlete. She runs like the wind and anchored her high school relay team as a freshman at the state track championships back in May.
Among her birthday presents four days ago was one I had been saving for 16 years. It’s The Blade from the day she was born, Nov. 22, 2001.
I wanted her to have an understanding of the world she became a part of, and I couldn’t think of a better way than to give her a comprehensive report on the events of the day and help her realize that the world around us, despite its many flaws and endless political crises, keeps spinning.
I had one request of Clara: read The Blade from her day of birth and read her local newspaper published on her 16th birthday.
The message that life goes on seems especially appropriate as we learn of another mind-numbing shooting of innocents, sabre-rattling between two unpredictable world leaders, and natural disasters that frighten us to our core.
Born two months after 9/11, Clara did not have to experience the horror of that day, something else to be grateful for. Obviously I can’t assure her that something as terrifying won’t happen again, but I hope her examination of two newspapers 16 years removed from each other makes clear that there is far more good in the world than evil.
First the bad stuff.
There was plenty of it on the front page of the Nov. 22, 2001, Blade.
President Bush flew to Kentucky to share Thanksgiving dinner with troops at Fort Campbell and vowed to intensify attacks on terrorist strongholds in Afghanistan.
A Connecticut woman became the fifth person to die in the national anthrax scare.
A Lansing couple and their children opted to take the train to a holiday gathering in Pennsylvania rather than fly during the nation’s post-911 tension.
But there was far more good news than bad in The Blade that day.
Members of the First Presbyterian Church of Maumee showed up at an empty lot in Springfield Township with building supplies and tools and built a new house for a woman and her two children. She had applied for help from Habitat for Humanity, the organization that constructs housing for the underprivileged.
Talk about a Thanksgiving blessing.
Firefighters fighting blazes in Kentucky got a big boost from Mother Nature when rains drenched the burn area.
Crime rates for violent crimes continued to fall in New York City, a mixed bag perhaps since any violent crime is awful, but a decline is better than the alternative.
The jackpot for a national lottery called the Big Game climbed to $9 million.
Metro Airport officials announced that their new $1.2 billion midfield terminal would open in three months’ time. The primary tenant, Northwest Airlines, is long gone although the terminal thrives.
Locally, several new babies entered the world and will forever share Clara’s birthday.
An advertisement touted gutter covers at 15 percent off. That was probably good news if you were in the market for gutter covers.
The Toledo Area Metroparks announced the dates for the popular Holidays in the Manor House at Wildwood Preserve. That was definitely good news.
The Peach Section offered a summary of the season’s top holiday movies. In case you don’t recall, the big ones in November of 2001 were Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Monsters, Inc.
Here’s another feel-good memory from 2001. Although it was released well ahead of the holidays, the original (and still the best) Shrek animated film is a delight to watch again still today.
So I circle back to the point here. Bad things happen in the real world, but so do many good and great things. For every person intent on unspeakable evil, there are millions who are kind and loving and the best of humankind. It would be nice if we all kept that in mind on this special holiday weekend.
I am grateful for all the goodness in my life, even in a year when death ripped away the best part of it, my soul mate of 52 years.
As for Clara, I can listen to her cute little 8-year-old voice any time I want by calling my landline from my cell phone. She recorded our phone greeting back in 2009 and I can’t bear to record a new one, even though the old one embarrasses her a bit.
She ends her message by advising callers to “have a bee-YOU-tee-full day!” Any day with her in it is beautiful. I hope she knows that.
Thomas Walton is the retired editor and vice president of The Blade. His column appears every other Sunday. His radio commentary, “Life As We Know It,” can be heard every Monday at 5:44 p.m. during “All Things Considered” on WGTE FM 91.
Contact him at: email@example.com.