For my new grandson, a "starfish" is making a difference.

Have you ever heard the starfish story? Actually, the real story is entitled “The Starfish Thrower,” written by Nebraska born anthropologist Loren Eisley.

By the way, did you know that starfish are not fish? They are animals. For your additional information, most starfish have five or more arms.

My favorite starfish is the North Atlantic Starfish. This starfish came as the result of my frequent summer beach trips.

Anyway, the starfish story goes something like this . . .

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a young boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? “You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said . . . “I made a difference for that one.”

My starfish story is a bit different. I certainly hope Mr. Eisley’s family won’t mind.

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from my daughter Ashley. She had phoned to tell me that she had seen her obstetrician (a baby doctor). 

It was obvious by the tone of Ashley’s voice, that she was upset. “Mom, the doctor performed tests and we are headed to the hospital.  They have to take the baby early because something is wrong.”

Of course, I asked if the doctor would wait until I arrived. But the doctor could not. It was urgent that the baby be delivered. 

The baby, my fourth grandchild, had stopped growing inside of mommy. He was too small.

Kortney and I hurried out the door and arrived safely in Idaho, shortly after the baby was born. This little preemie, Carter, weighed in at 3 pound 10 ounces. 

For whatever reason little Carter had stopped eating, and growing. It was a good move by the doctor to hurry things up.

I have seen many preemies over the past 30 years. After Kelsey and Kristin were born, NICU’s (Neonatal Intensive Care Units) became my specialty. They also became my greatest love.

The medical phenomenons which take place in these life-sized wombs, are truly miracles.

Anyway, after loving on my other grandsons, I raced to the hospital to see little Carter and Ashley. 

I hugged Ashley. Then, we walked toward the nursery.

What a rush of emotions as I walked into the NICU. I had forgotten just how small a baby under 5 pounds was . . .

And there was my little grandson Carter, connected to monitors and sleeping peacefully. He looked very tired.

It was a few days later when I felt the inspiration for today’s column. Ashley and I had left early in the morning for our daily visit to the NICU nursery. When we walked into the NICU and toward the isolate to view Carter, we noticed him hugging a starfish. This was a most tender sight.

The nurse explained that sometimes tiny babies need and miss the comfort, soothing, cozy feeling of mommy. The weighted starfish provided that for little Carter.

Almost three weeks later, Carter did return home to his family. The little starfish did make a difference . . . to this one.