A Birthday Call From Eric Ball
Eric Ball, as many readers will know, was one of England's most distinguished composers, recognized by Her Majesty as a member of the Order of The British Empire. More importantly to us, he was our son's Godfather.
On October 27, 1988 our phone rang in mid-afternoon. As it happened, I was away from my desk and in the kitchen and had just that moment picked up my little son, then called Bobby. It was his first birthday.
As I lifted the receiver the unmistakable, frail-sounding voice of Eric Ball said: "Hello Bob!" I stuttered . . . "E-Eric?" He said: "Yes, but I didn't call to speak to you. I understand it's Master Robert's birthday. May I speak to him, please?" "Y-yes . . ." said I as I put the phone to Bobby's ear. He eagerly took possession and began a series of quizzical looks and a stream of "bla-bla, dibble, dibble, da, da, da" as any baby might. After well more than a full minute of this dialogue, he smiled and said his first-ever intelligible words as clear as a bell: "Bye-bye!" and he hung up the phone.
I have no idea what transpired between them, but I'm as certain as I am of life itself that Eric was offering my son, his godson, his blessing. I never asked Eric. I felt that was between him and my son.
I was, however, brought to mind of a similar experience with our daughter Jean a couple years earlier in Chicago. We were visiting Marion Fischer, the wife of my mentor and dear friend Irwin Fischer. Jeannie was babbling away and "Granny Marion", for whom Jean received one of her middle names, babbled back in-kind. Finally Marion chortled and said: "She knows exactly what she's saying. We're just to stupid to understand her!"
I suspect that both Eric and little Bobby knew exactly what they were saying, and that there was a blessing in there somewhere. The reason? Bobby, "Buck" as he is now known, has been as blameless a kid as ever existed, and remains in his late teens the most Christ-centered youngster I've ever seen. What a birthday present!!
What can I say? Thank you Lord! Thank you Eric! Thank you Buck!
Meet "Master Robert"
Robert Christian Jennings Getz
(May an earthly father say "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased . . .")
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