Friday, August 24, 2007


Recently I had the joy of watching my year and half old grandson run through the yard with a Joie de Vivre that was so palatable, you couldn’t help but be infected by it. Looking at the world through his eyes renews my spirit in times of stress. Can I imagine life without him in it? No. Life often presents us with gifts we are unable to see at the time. It is with this thought that I want to share what I wrote about his begin. It is my tribute to my grandson.

Excerpt from Aiden:
My daughter has stopped by the house in a surprise visit. She has recently moved back to the state and reconnected with an old boyfriend. She is living there now with his family. I don’t know much about them. For a year we had no communication with her. Only she knows what went on during that year, but I do not ask. That is behind us now. Here they both are, sitting in my living room making small talk.

The boyfriend walks outdoors with my husband. It’s just the two of us. “I’m pregnant.” She tells me. I blink. There is a moment of silence as I process this news. “Are you going to keep the baby?” I ask in what I hope is a matter-of-fact tone. “Yes” she replies. “Good.” I say, but my stomach suddenly feels acidy. Another silent moment passes. “Are you scared?” I ask next. I notice a faint crack in her composure. “Yes” she says quietly and with a slight quiver in her voice. She quickly recovers.

I admire the way she maintains her composure. My memory goes back to when she was a young child. One day in particular comes to mind. She is misbehaving and I threaten a spanking. “You can spank me all you want” she retorts, “buy you can never make me cry!” It’s at that moment that I know I have met my match. No two people can be as hard headed as the two of us. There is only this one difference between us. I let my tears flow freely.

“You are taking this much more calmly than I expected” she says. I have a lot of spinning going on in my mind. It feels less than calm. I try to bullet my thoughts like they are some type of report so that I can pick the right thing to say next. I’m always fearful of saying something wrong. “It’s not something that can be undone.” I tell her. “We are after all talking about my grandchild.”

I’m not ready to be a grandparent, and as the days wear on I can’t make sense of the thoughts rolling around in my mind. I think about the empty nest syndrome. Some couples have been known to have late in life children to fill a void left by departed offspring. I have no such inclination. I am enjoying my freedom. I feel reborn and reconnected with the world. I devoted my life to my children. I love them. I will always love them. However, child rearing is behind me and I’m enjoying renewed life. My head is filled with what-ifs. Will they manage? Will she need to move home? Will I become a surrogate mother? It makes me feel guilty and selfish to have such thoughts.

I seek out a confidant. This person has always been a good listener in the past and does not fail me when I approach as someone to confide in. He has a calming personality, and his gentle Quaker way often sooths my ruffled feathers. He has a story to tell of friends. They too had mixed and unfavorable emotions when presented with the news of a little one on the way. They were forever transformed however, with love of this child, when they cradled their “flesh and bone” in their arms. I think it’s a bit sappy, but all his advice to me in the past has proven reliable. I take this with me although I’m a bit skeptical.

My daughter has invited me to be present in the delivery room when the time comes. I’m surprised by this, but accept the invitation. I’m not sure what to expect. The reality is never what one imagines it will be.

The phone rings. The day has arrived. We head to the hospital. The labor progresses quickly. My grandson is wailing before he is fully into the world. I follow the nurse as he is weighed and then ushered under the warming lights. I stay by his side. He is cleaned, vitals are taken and then he is measured head to foot. All the while his little arms flail and he wails with strong lungs. I feel his confusion at the lack of familiarity the womb has provided. I place my finger in his palm as the nurse works on him. His little fist clutches my finger with a grip that is strong. His wailing subsides immediately as he holds on with tenacity. I notice how swollen his genitals are. Being born is serious business. He has his mother’s toes. He flexes them independently of each other. I have to release his little grip on my finger as he is wrapped and swaddle. The wailing ensues.

He is placed in his mother’s arms and she envelopes him as though she has done so hundreds of times. So it is with mothers down through the millennium. There is no training needed here. Where only moments before there was much bustling about, now there is subdued quiet. We watch in respectful awe. We are witnesses to the start of a new life. The quiet is broken only with the gentle cooing of mother and snuffling baby sounds. It is at that moment that I know it is going to be all right.

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