At this writing, the Osterman family is awaiting in Florida its next generation. My niece Angela and husband Hugh are in the “any day now” phase of the birth of their first child.
The baby’s due date has already come and gone, so we’re all like that scene in “Apollo 13” where everyone in mission control is sweating splashdown. Pardon the expression.
For those of you who don’t know much about the process of pregnancy and birth, predicting the day a child will be born is as precise as picking lottery winners or handicapping horse races. Doctors gather all the information they can and make an educated guess, with the key word being “guess.”
The future parents do not know if they are having a boy or girl but we do know the little one will not carry the Osterman name. He or she will have the father’s last name — Meyer. Some put a lot of stock in family names, and fret when their offspring are all daughters.
They shake their heads with great sorrow, bemoaning the fact that their proud bloodline is going to “disappear.” They make it sound like they’ve been on the endangered species list, just below the Hawaiian hoary bat. And do they really need to use the term “bloodline”? It sounds like an untoward aspect of an annual physical.
Osterman is not a household name, but according to anywho.com I found more than 40 folks with that last name in Georgia, and 98 in Indiana where the family dropped anchor when they came to America in 1845. Assuming just those Ostermans multiply, the name isn’t going anywhere. Our “legacy” appears safe.
This whole legacy business can be a leaky vessel to put much stock in. Famous people are frequently asked: “How do you want to be remembered?” I’m not sure exactly what happens to us when we are exiting this mortal coil, but I don’t know that we’ll really be sweating our legacy at that point.
I see those bumper stickers that read: “He who dies with the most toys wins” and wonder — isn’t he who dies with the most toys still dead?
I think most of us want to be thought of as the kind who left things a little better than we found them. I don’t know how some make the leap from leaving a better world to making sure there are a lot of people with their last name, but it seems to happen a lot.
Me? I’m rooting for a healthy baby, a smooth delivery and the chance to call my brother Gramps. May the birth remind us grownups that there are still things that need doing to make this planet a better place.
And the name? The parents can name it Aurora Saffron Meyer or Merlin Peregrine Meyer, and I won’t mind a whit. I would point out, however, that Jim is a pretty nice name. I’m just sayin’.
Jim Osterman lives in Sandy Springs.
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