Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ben at Sixteen

Ben was due. Robin was in labor and several of us gathered in the hospital corridor of Good Samaritan hospital in San Jose, CA awaiting the birth. The group included Grandpa Roger and Mina, Grandma Gayle, Colleen and me. Most of us, including father-to-be, Steve, were pretty useless. Colleen, however, compassionately coached her sister through a fairly long and difficult labor. Finally, Ben emerged to a scene of panic -- he didn't breathe right away and the Doctor ran frantically across the room jostling the baby to try to get him going while Steve ran right behind trying to find out what was wrong. Turned out nothing was wrong, the baby started breathing, and everything and everyone settled down. Benjamin Kenneth Maples was born at sixteen minutes after midnight on July 20, 1995. I don't remember his birth weight and have no record of it -- maybe Colleen knows. I do recall that he had an extraordinary cone head (fortunately quite temporary), testimony to the long, arduous birth. He was a good and easy baby and Robin was a calm, competent new mom. Before long, it was clear he was a red head, just like his mom.
Ben lived in San Jose until July 2000. During that time, his mom supported the family while his dad went to school. In July 2000, they moved to Rochester, NY so Steve could pursue a PhD in physics at the University of Rochester where he had a fellowship. In April of 2001, Ben's world turned upside down when his mother died at the hand of his father and a few days later, his dad took his own life.
Ben and brother Logan came to live in El Dorado Hills with me, Colleen, and her family. He attended Lake Forest School, achieved a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, and dabbled in baseball and soccer. When we moved to Missouri in 2006, he said good-bye to relatives, friends, and teachers who had helped him through some difficult times.
July of this year, he went to California and had a chance to reunite with some of those who had been so important to his earlier years. Here's some pictures from first grade in 2002:

Ben in First Grade
Friend, Trevor
Trevor also achieved a Tae Kwan Do Black belt and was in Ben's class each year at Lake Forest School.
Friend Anna, also in Ben's class through fourth grade
And here they are today.

Happy birthday Ben. I am so proud of the person you are. I love and like you beyond measure.

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