On Friday, October 6, 2017, a new member joined our family. Payden Phoenix Matthews was born at 5:23 p.m. He weighed 8 pounds, 13.5 ounces, and measured 21 inches in length. According to his dad, our oldest son, Scott, “His first name is a combination of his twin brothers that we lost (Peyton and Jaeden), and his second name, which means ‘rises from the ashes’, represents the fact that on two occasions during utero we had less than a 30% chance of survival.”
Well, Payden defied those odds and even hung on to come a couple weeks late…but now he’s here.
Though Payden’s first name may be a combination of his brothers’ who were lost, it is only a way of honoring their short lives and in no way means that he is a replacement for them.
Nope, Payden will be his own boy.
Payden, this is to you.
Welcome to a family that loves you.
I’m not speaking for your mom’s side of the family, although I know they will love you just as much. I’m talking about your direct ancestors and aunts and uncles on the Matthews side. I’m not forgetting your cousins either.
The only ones on this side who won’t have the same last name as you are your Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Heimer. Grannie Annie’s parents can’t wait to meet you and welcome you into their proud family tradition too.
Your Great Granny Matthews is anxiously awaiting her chance to hold you and love you too.
Your great grandparents, including your Great Grandpa Matthews who passed on a dozen years before your birth, established a tradition of hard work that your dad and his brothers have carried on. Hopefully you will too.
A few years ago I spent a lot of time researching our ancestry. I found that, on Grannie Annie’s side, it is mostly German with a generous dollop of Swedish and drips and drabs of others from that part of the world.
On my side, there is a mixture which proves the old saying that the United States is a melting pot. Mostly English, there is also Italian, Irish, Native American, and one who I have been told was either African American or Blackfoot Indian. In some ways I’d like to know which for sure, but in other ways the lack of proof adds a bit of mystery and excitement to our bloodline.
Your parents have worked hard at being not only the best teachers they can possibly be but also mentors and positive examples for the youngsters in their charge. As you grow you may get tired, at times, of hearing all their former students talk about how wonderful they are but that feeling will quickly be overwhelmed by pride at the incredible people you come from.
They may be busy with their careers but they will always make sure they have plenty of time for you and your sister.
Big sister Pfiefer will alternate between being your best friend and your worst enemy. She’ll get tired of you playing with her toys and just generally bugging her, but just let someone try to hurt you or say something bad about you and there will be no force on earth more fiercely protective of you than the mighty mite that is your big sister Pfiefer.
Your uncles, your dad’s brothers, will be your heroes and your idols. They will be your examples, along with your dad, of what a man should be. They will be your playmates in innumerable games of football and basketball. They will teach you about running and hiking and being fiercely competitive…and playing fair. They’ll set the example of how to “shake it off and get back in the game,” but they’ll make sure you are OK first. You’ll quickly learn from them how to not take yourself too seriously.
Your aunts will show you what strong, independent women should be. They’ll teach you how to interact with and respect women and girls. They will let you know, in no uncertain terms, when you have misbehaved, but they’ll always have a smile and a hug for you too.
Then there are your cousins. So far you have four girl and two boy cousins on the Matthews side. Like your sister you may find that you like certain ones more than others at times, but that it can flip-flop at a moment’s notice.
The last couple years Grannie Annie and I have tried to set aside a couple weeks in the summer just for our grandchildren. One week has been Girls’ Week and the other is Boys’ Week. I probably shouldn’t have capitalized those names as they are more general guidelines than set-in-stone rules. One of your girl cousins has already spent Boys’ Week with us and we all had a great time during both weeks. No, Girls’ Week and Boys’ Week are more a convenient way of Grannie and Pa’s trying to keep from getting overwhelmed and outnumbered. It happens anyway so who knows what it will be like in the future.
Those weeks were also set aside as a way for your parents and aunts and uncles to get a little “alone time” to get reacquainted with each other and remind them why they fell in love in the first place. Have no doubts about it, you and the other Matthews kids are all here because of love.
Those weeks were also designed to give Grannie and Pa a chance to get the new generation of Matthews kids all to themselves. With six sons, five daughters-in-law, and eight grand children, it would be too easy for the quiet ones to get overshadowed. Quiet ones are rare in this family.
The big holidays are the times when everyone can come home and everything can get exciting in the mass-confusion of so many people so full of life. Boys’ Week and Girls’ Week are times when we can set aside some of the individual time that we crave before everyone goes home to the four winds.
Those weeks we’ll be able to walk in the woods and fields, just a few grandkids and Grannie and Pa. You can ask Gran about the flowers and Pa will love talking to you about the animals and nature and anything else he knows anything about. Pa will build a fire in the fire pit on the deck and we can roast hotdogs and marshmallows. Later we’ll sit in the dark watching the stars as we listen to the sounds of nature at night. Maybe we’ll talk about the olden days before cell phones, when TVs only had two channels. Maybe we’ll put up the tent and spend a night or two camping out like we used to do when your dad was little.
Of course, as Grannie and Pa’s lives slow down and we have more free time, maybe you can spend some time alone with us at our farm. We’ll talk to you about when your dad and his brothers were your age. We’ll push you in the swing I built for the grandbabies and just relax and have fun. I’ll take you fishing and Grannie will teach you how to dig in the dirt. We’ll feed my chickens and gather the eggs and we’ll play with the dogs or just walk and talk.
Somewhere along the line you’ll reach up and take Grannie and Pa by the hand, or we’ll pick you up and carry you while you’re still little enough. In the evening, after baths, we’ll sit in the big chair together or lie on your bed and we’ll watch TV or read, and you’ll cuddle up to Grannie or Pa and slip quietly off to sleep.
As we lay you down in your bed for the night, we’ll bend down to stroke your soft hair and give you a good night kiss and always, always tell you we love you.
Because, have no doubt about it, you are here because of love.