To Eli on his 1st birthday (from gram):
From the moment we learned you were coming, we loved you. We were so excited and couldn’t wait to meet you. June 11, 2012 was an unbelievably happy day for Poppy and me. We got to see your beautiful face, hold you, and marvel at the miracle that is Mark Eliot Klapheke, our baby Eli. Poppy brought his stethoscope so he could check you out!
I was honored to get to be there when your Mom and Dad brought you home from the hospital. None of us could stop smiling. Our joy was contagious with lots of family and friends celebrating your birth. Your extended family was ecstatic that you had arrived safely; a happy, healthy baby boy. You couldn’t begin to know then how much you were loved, but must have felt it in the security of your parents’ arms. You are truly a blessing to your family.
You loved being outside! Your Mom would take you out and sit on the porch talking and singing to you. You were such a peaceful baby, unhappy only when you needed something. We would all sit and stare at you and marvel at how perfect you were.
There have been so many changes in a year! As you grew, you were even more fun. You loved, and still do, watching your world. We loved watching you as you became aware of the world around you and began to explore it. First you explored with your eyes, ears, and mouth, then hands, and now by crawling everywhere to see what was happening around you. Looking out your windows delighted you. When someone pulled in your driveway, your Mom would stand you up at the window so you could see. You would get so excited! I loved watching you watch men work in your yard. They, in turn, enjoyed watching you watch them! Outside was still your favorite place. Going for walks or to the park or to the library brought forth that beautiful Eli smile. Poppy and I love seeing your eyes light up and your smile erupt when we facetime with you. Seeing you in person is even better! We love it when you come to visit us or we come to your house. You are so much fun to be around! Books and music are favorites for you and your hugs can’t be matched. Watching you discover something new and concentrate on something is fascinating to us.
As much fun as this first year has been, your life is going to be more and more exciting. You have such wonderful experiences ahead of you. As you grow and try new things, I hope you always remember to be thankful for the small things you encounter. You loved the simple joy of the breeze on your face when you were a baby. I hope you continue to enjoy the world around you.
Your Mom and I often talk about a “Mother Book” with instructions and information for Moms. Here is a bit of advice from the “Gram book” for you.
Remember to do your best at whatever you do, both little things and big.
Be proud of the effort you put into a task.
You will be well-served if you do.
Be kind to everyone.
Respect girls and women. Treat them as you would want the women who are special to you, your Mom, grandmothers and aunts, to be treated.
Take care of your body — you will have it for a long time!
Be of good character. It is many times hard to do the right thing, but living with yourself when you do the wrong thing isn’t easy. My father (your great-grandfather) often said that when he was tempted to do something that wasn’t right, he reminded himself that he had to look in the mirror each day, and needed to be happy with what he saw.
Trust your gut feelings. If something feels wrong, it probably is.
Have compassion for other people.
You were lucky to be born into the family you have. Everyone isn’t as lucky.
Especially remember that you are well-loved. Your family will always be there for you. Never hesitate to go to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for support and advice. Hug them all often.