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Heralding a heritage—being a blessing from the Lord

Catfish Town was our destination of choice as a young family of three. Located in downtown Baton Rouge, the huge venue felt like a carnival—like a European open-air market. On weekends, the place bustled with energy and excitement, and with just a few dollars, we could have a terrific adventure. We walked the levee along the Mississippi River toward the throbbing heartbeat of the city, experiencing the loud colors and vibrant music long before we arrived at our port of call. We were never alone; people in pairs and clusters ranged along the 13-mile long levee path in the direction of Catfish Town, passing LSU where we lived in married housing, and occasionally we met people going away from the revelry, heading to their cars after filling up on the festivities.

Most often, toddler Kyle strode between his parents, swinging linked hands, pulling and hurrying us forward. Sometimes, we went too slowly for his liking, and he stepped out ahead. One memorable weekend (that remains in our family’s most-shared-stories category to this day!), our son, who never met a stranger, sauntered up to a couple coming our way. He extended his hand as he reached them and said, “Hi! My name’s Kyle!” Looking back at us, he continued, nodding his head left then right, “This one’s Jim and this one’s Kathy!” The people smiled big smiles, shook his hand, and gave their names back to him. He acknowledged them and kept on going. The man told me through his smile, “That’s a fine young man you have there. Do you think he’ll go into politics or sales?” The woman added, “He will be a huge success, wherever life takes him!”

I am writing this column on Kyle’s birthday. My son burst into my life in the spring, on the day after Easter, at the time just between afternoon and evening. Life-changing does not begin to explain how the moment became momentous. Even now, it is difficult to imagine a more perfect first child. I did all the first-time parent things, like counting fingers and toes, feeling the incredibly soft baby cheeks, the downy drift of black hair. I remember my thankful heart growing exponentially every time I went by his little crib, pausing often, my hand touching his heart and feeling his warm breath as he exhaled (just to make sure).

He is precious to me. I am grateful that I have a son. That son. Kyle.

My dad was a first child. But he and his mother were abandoned by his biological father. There were days when little to no food was on the table and he began picking cotton when he was 12 years old to help pay bills and buy groceries. It was a life that promised little to no heritage to herald.

His mom eventually remarried. Dad’s stepfather taught him to spell his last name E-d-m-i-n-s-o-n, although that was not the correct spelling. Purposeful or not, the outcome was that upon signing with the military, Dad’s way of spelling his name became his legal name. When the family learned of the error, it didn’t matter anymore; too many legal documents, military service, marriage license, birth certificates verified that our family name is Edminson. Heritage mattered to my parents, and they counted that heritage by our name, starting with the two of them.

The psalmist declares, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (127:3-5). There were times in his life that Dad felt alone, one man against the world. When he and Mom established their home together, all of that changed.

I have one brother, and he has five sons. My nephew Trey has a son and two adopted sons who bear the family name. When Kyle was born, I realized how very important it was to me to have that lineage passing down in my family, too. Now Kyle has sons, and the name E-d-m-i-n-s-o-n is passed along. I am glad of that gift—a heritage my father gave me. Lord willing, I will know the blessing of seeing the next generation of those who bear our name.

Catfish Town is but a memory now, and I and my son live in different states with no levees, no Mighty Mississippi flowing through our towns. But Kyle continues to stride through life, confident and strong, meeting all with a firm handshake and characteristic smile. As I watch, he is there, just ahead of me, making a difference in the lives of his own family, heralding the name Edminson, being that heritage, that blessing from the Lord.

By Jim Edminson, Editor

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