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Thirty years ago, I fell in love at first sight.

My husband was in the same room, but he wasn’t the object of my affection.

Our firstborn son came into the world at 10:56 p.m. on Nov. 1, and just like that, life forever changed. And like the proverbial blink that songs mention, 30 years has seemed like 30 seconds.

I’d been in early labor since I was seven months pregnant, whisked by ambulance to a hospital for several intense, miserable days, then sent home with pills that made me jumpy and with orders to rest until he was born.

We were watching Unsolved Mysteries when my water broke, and it was showtime for real. Less than

3 1/2 hours later, John David Keith was in my arms, crying, until I hummed a song I’d hummed when I was pregnant, and he stopped midcry.

Then I cried when I took him home because, as I said to my momma, “I don’t know what to do for him!” We learned. Trial and error, advice from my mother and a good friend, and maternal instincts. I worried for a while that I didn’t have any. We didn’t want kids when we first married, but less than two years later, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I. Wanted. A. Baby.

In some ways he was an easy baby. He didn’t cry much at all, but he also didn’t sleep much. I sat and held him pretty much all day for nine weeks of maternity leave. I don’t regret it a bit. I had no idea that he’d be 6-4 and have to bend down for a hug.

Although he is hardheaded (getting a sunburn and almost freezing to death despite my warnings of both come to mind), he was a good kid.

Teachers loved him, and he was always mature for his age. I heard, “I wish I had a whole classroom full of Johns” more than once. He was and is a man of few words. Instead of being like his Type A talkative mother, he’s reserved and laid-back — sometimes to the point of driving me (and my daughter-in-law) crazy, but I respect his restraint. He still shushes me in restaurants when I get too loud.

He’s one of the funniest people I know and a talented writer, even though he decided not to follow in the journalism route after a stint writing for a hunting-and-fishing newspaper. Always a leader, not a follower, he’s in management with a trucking group.

He has a passion for duck hunting and the outdoors that did not come from me or his daddy, but he, thankfully, also likes to play golf with his dad.

Of course, I wish I could relive a few moments from his childhood. I still wonder, ‘What did I do right, and what did I do wrong?’ I know my husband and I did the best we could.

As I hoped for my son, he found the right girl, got married and started a family. When his daughter was born two years ago, I’ll never forget how he held her up in the nursery for us to see, tears in his eyes. I fell in love at first sight again.

And now he knows how I felt 30 years ago — and will forever.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-5671 or


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