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My Children's Father

Jackie Gingrich Cushman on

In January 1995, I made a list of 18 attributes that described the type of man I wanted to marry. The list included "wants children," "high family ties -- loves his mother," "secure in themselves" and "social."

Three years later, I married such a man. A man who more than met the criteria, Jimmy Cushman.

I first knew that we would marry when he was helping me hang curtains in my house. Standing in front of a window, wearing jeans, hammer in hand, he was staring up, determining the next steps. In a flash, I knew that we would one day be married. Less than two years later, we were.

We have been blessed by God with two wonderful children, Maggie and Robert. It was only after we had had children that I realized how incredibly important he was, not only to me, but to our children. He is irreplaceable.

Maggie was born in respiratory distress and was whisked from the delivery room for breathing treatments. Jimmy followed her every step of the way to make sure that she was safe and being looked after.

My favorite picture from the hospital shows Jimmy seated in a chair. His head is bowed; he is sleeping, holding Maggie in his arms.

 

When Robert's arrival followed 22 months later, Jimmy was in the room when the doctor called for an emergency cesarean section. The umbilical cord was prolapsed, and our child would have died if he had been delivered normally. Jimmy's eyes grew large when he heard the news. He and my sister Kathy were then pushed aside as the medical staff rapidly rolled me on a gurney out of the room and down the hall to an operating room. A few minutes later, unsure of what was going to happen, I was put all the way under by the anesthesiologist. Hours later, when I awoke, I saw Jimmy in my room, giving me a thumbs-up. All was well with our child. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.

My favorite picture from the hospital shows Jimmy seated in a chair. His head is bowed; he is sleeping, holding Robert in his arms.

Robert turns 20 this summer. As the years have gone by, the daily physical challenges of parenting have changed from dressing, feeding, bathing and entertaining to the daily mental challenges of challenging, inspiring, listening to and encouraging. This past year, both of our children were in college, in an extraordinary time, and we are transitioning to less frequent interaction, reminding ourselves that their job is to break away from us and become independent. It has become apparent to me, through all these phases, that I chose even better than I had thought at the time, and certainly better than I deserve.

A wonderful husband, Jimmy is also an incredible father: charming, funny and caring, with fine Southern manners.

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