A Single White Rose

In 1971 I faced the most difficult experience of my life, one which has changed me forever. I had grown up in a small town in Iowa where families were the center of our lives, I loved dolls and babysitting, and I could hardly wait to be a mother! I even became a high school English teacher because I loved working with young people. In 1965 I graduated from the University of Kansas and began teaching in LaGrange, Illinois, in 1966 I married a wonderful man named Charlie, and on April 2, 1969, we were blessed with our first child, Garrett Wayne Glanz.

I felt in control of my life and filled with thanksgiving and anticipation for the future. We had saved all of my teaching paychecks and were able to put a downpayment on a small English cottage in Western Springs, Illinois, Charlie was doing well in his work at the Chicago Tribune, and I found out I was pregnant again in early 1971. We were ecstatic!

I had a perfectly normal pregnancy, teaching adult swimming two mornings a week at the YMCA, and loving each moment of teaching our little son Garrett about our beautiful world. Our second child was due January 3, 1972. On December 20 I began having labor pains in the night, so we took Garrett to the neighbor’s and went to the hospital. Since I was nearly fully dilated and only 2 1/2 weeks early, the doctor induced labor, and our second child, Gavin Ward Glanz, was born at 4:45 pm December 21, 1971. We spent the evening calling all our family and friends to share our joy, and both of us tried to get a much-needed good night’s sleep. The next day the nightmare began!

When our pediatrician and personal friend, Dr. Allen, walked into my room early the next morning, I immediately knew something was wrong. With great difficulty, he told us that he thought our baby son had a congenital heart defect and they were taking him by ambulance to Cook County Children’s hospital to the best pediatric cardiologist in the area. However, he said not to give up hope because often open heart surgery could be performed and the children could be fine, so Charlie followed the ambulance, and I began the awful waiting.

Later that afternoon, Charlie called to tell me that our baby had died. The problem turned out to be with his lungs, and there was no way they could have saved him even though he weighed over 7 pounds. He was buried on Christmas Eve.

I know that never again in my life will I feel so helpless and so completely empty–I would have traded my life for his in an instant! Because none of our family or friends ever got to know him, hold him, or even see his picture (the hospital didn’t take one), they had a difficult time relating to our grief, and although they were sad for us, they really felt little connection to our son. As a result, much of the time Charlie and I felt alone in our deep love for him and in the terrible loss of being able to watch him grow and become an adult.

I tried to go on with my life, especially since we had a young son who needed me; however, there were days that I didn’t think I could make it through even the morning, so deep was my grief and sense of loss. Someone about that time gave me a copy of a book that has forever influenced my life and helped make my recovery possible. It was by Jess Lair, a wonderful Christian man, who talked about living five minutes at a time. Many days I could not face even another hour, but I could always get through five minutes, and I consciously held onto that and my faith in a loving God as a means of survival. That was one of the beautiful lessons I learned through all my pain–to be fully in the present and to treasure every minute of every day. However, I still struggled with people’s reluctance to talk about our son, their lack of memories of him, and the terrible void there was in my life.

On December 21,1972, the day which would have been Gavin’s first birthday, the doorbell rang, and there at the doorstep was a delivery man from the florist. He had a small bud vase holding one single white rose. With it was a card from some very dear friends that read, “This is in memory of a very special life, one which we know will make a difference in this world–Gavin Ward Glanz.” And each year for many years on December 21, that single whilte rose has arrived on our doorstep–a symbol that someone in this often indifferent, rushed world of ours does remember the life of our little boy.

And they were right–he has made a difference in this world through me, the person I have become because of his life and death, and the abiding message of hope I am able to share with others as I speak all over the world.

A beautiful post script to this story is that on May 17, 1998, our first little grandson was born, and what did they name him? Gavin William Glanz. How very blessed we are! Our son lives on through this precious gift of new life, and we will always celebrate our new little Gavin’s birthday with one single white rose.

© Barbara Glanz Communications. All Rights Reserved.

Barbara Glanz Biography

A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at bglanz@barbaraglanz.com and www.barbaraglanz.com.

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