Anna as a Baby

22 09 2008

The thing about Anna that seemed to strike everyone was her hair.  It stood straight up off of her head.  As she got older and her hair got longer we thought gravity would kick in at some point and bring it down to earth, or at least flat on the top of her head.  It reached the point where people—usually at church, for some reason—when seeing Anna would comment on how cute she was, and then turning to us and looking quite serious, would say, “You know, there’s something you can do about her hair.”

But we were always a bit different, some might say more than a bit, and we kind of liked that just-stuck-my-finger-in-the-light-socket look that she had.

During her first year it became evident very quickly that Anna’s temperment was far different from her brother’s.  Samuel was loud.  Anna was quiet.  Samuel was headstrong.  Anna was compliant.  We gave both of the babies play pen time.  For Samuel, play pen time was a fight against nature.  Like trying to hold back the tide.  It wasn’t that he didn’t like being in his play pen—I think he actually enjoyed it—it was that he really, really liked to be with people, especially his mom and dad.  So when Samuel went into his play pen we had to sneak around the house and make it appear as if no one was there with him.  If he ever caught sight of anyone, he immediately stood up and wanted out.  Then began the fight.

Anna loved her play pen.  For her it provided time away from everyone, time away from the world.  She was free from the demands of her parents, free from the friendly onslaught of her brother, and she could just sit and think about things and get everything organized.

She enjoyed playing different games while in her play pen, but what seemed to light her up and keep her occuppied for long periods was organizing.  She would make a mess and then put it away.  She would crawl to the corner of the pen, find a small basket of blocks, and put them out on the floor.  Then, instead of building something, she would just patiently put them back into the basket in the neatest possible way.

She soon graduated to puzzles.  Wooden puzzles, cardboard puzzles, anything she could get her hands on. Later on, as a child, she continued her love for puzzles.  We would bring puzzles in plastic storage bags on trips with us so she would have them to play with.  On these occasions she started her habit of working several puzzles at once.  Instead of working one at a time, we usually found her in the middle of the floor with five or six puzzles around her, each half-finished, and all the remaining pieces in a single pile in front of her.

In the first year, it became very evident that Anna was going to be a very happy, friendly, and complaint child.  She had a smile seemingly attached to her face.  Whenever she saw someone she immediately lit up.  She contracted chicken pox during that first year.  We don’t remember her once crying or complaining as she was covered with the tiny sores.  I must admit that presented a bit of a comical picture.  We have a photograph of her sitting in the floor playing with her toys.  She had begun to lose some of her baby fat and assume the skinny look she would have the rest of her life.  Her face was covered with tiny red pock marks.  Her hair stood several inches straight up into the air.  But in contradiction or defiance to her sickly appearance, she had a pleasant smile and her blue eyes already were showing the brightness, depth, and maturity that would be so evident later as a young girl.

Anna’s hair became such a trademark for her that it was with a touch of sadness that we found her one Sunday morning with her hair finally succumbing to gravity and lying softly over her ears and forehead.  One of our friends recalls my Sunday School class that day as I began my teaching by announcing that at long last, my daughter’s hair had fallen down.

Little did I know at the time, the story of Anna’s hair would become a sort of analogy of her life on earth.  Her hair was always so fine—slender tendrils making their way heavenward.  In seeming defiance of all known natural laws they continued their journey upward even resisting efforts to bring them back down.  In the same way, Anna, the tender fragile girl, seemed bent on an upward journey that seemed to resist all bounds of reason.  What would she be able to accomplish?  At times it seemed her potential was unlimited.  But human mortality, as gravity, will not be denied, and as her defiant hair gave way to the earth’s pull, so Anna gave way to the end of all men.  As she would later say, “Out, out, brief candle!”  And her life would be led on “the way of dusty death.”  But, alas, Anna knew that death was not the end of her story!


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23 09 2008
Sharon Bernhardt

Thank you for sharing this blog and your memories of your beautiful daughter. I hope that it provides a measure of healing. Thank you for allowing us to come along on your journey and celebrate Anna.
Praying for you all…

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