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New Revelation
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New Revelation

Thoughts on the birth of my first grandchild - September 2012 - Written April 2013.

They sat with their faces just inches apart. The younger, eyes crossed to focus on the nose of the elder, his head cradled in one large hand. The old man leaned forward slowly, deliberately, until their noses touched and the boy's eyes blinked upwards and met the other's steady gaze. The old man closed both eyes, then slowly opened just one, to see if he was still being watched. He was. The child seemed to be mapping his face, crease by line, by wrinkle and the old man remembered his own father's face from his own childhood. His father had been younger in that memory than the old man's son was now. The boy's eyes returned to the eyes of his grandfather and they remained locked in a mutual stare until the man smiled and the baby boy blinked and his own little face creased into a huge grin. A moment of silent perfection.

I didn't know how to deal with being a grandfather. My own father had little interest in my children. I was told off for waking him when our first was born. I can't remember them babysitting, other than once or twice for a couple of hours. I suppose I'd vowed it would be different when my first grandchild arrived. But I still feared that I could never love a grandchild in the way I do my own children, and that really worried me. I would never behave the way my father did, but I could never fake it either. Perhaps to love a child that much was a form of disloyalty. My children have been my life.

As he stared at the child the old man remembered two pictures he'd seen. One described how a woman treats her child when left alone. She is cradling the child and looking lovingly into his face. The second depicts how a man might behave when alone. In the photograph he has gently squeezed the child's face, using the forefinger and thumb of each hand, into a squashed, gurning parody. The temptation was almost too strong, but he'd have to take a photo and no camera was at hand. Besides, although he knew his son would approve (and heartily at that), his daughter-in-law certainly wouldn't, so he gave it a miss. He loved the smell of the child: sickly sweet milk and baby powder. It took him back to his own children as babies.

I've never thought of myself as old; in fact I feel barely middle-aged. Are grandchildren supposed to make you feel younger or older? I'd no idea. I've heard some people say they've always wanted a grandchild. What does always mean? From birth? from the birth of their own child; from the point he or she weds? From the conception of their first child? Isn't that wishing your own life away?

He remembered his thoughts. Having a grandchild makes you feel older, yet younger too. Older in that the cycle was complete and he felt he now had wisdom to pass on to his son and his grandson. Younger in that he became that first time father all over again. Strange. It's true that his wife had looked forward to grandchildren from the moment her own children left home, but he hadn't felt that way. But anticipating something isn't the same as having it. He hadn't looked forward to falling in love and marrying, yet he couldn't give it up. He looked at the child in his arms again and realised that he would never want to lose this little one either. He knew he could give this gift of love, a gift of God, forever to this other gift of God.

I get it now. I get every grandparent who's ever said to me "You won't understand until it happens to you". And I know I'll feel the same about the next one, and the next. They say grandchildren are like toys you can wind up before giving them back to the parents. But giving back might just be the hardest part.


Street Talk

Leonardo2  

Your story is very personal. i felt it, so natural and spontaneous...would i feel the same way? well, i guess i would...or even more...i don't know...maybe mine would just be another story someday like RC Stude's...Thanks Paul for this great article!

Reply
  about 4 years ago
RC Stude  

Thank you so much for sharing this with us Paul. I can soooooo relate. I totally wasn't sure what to expect with my first grandchild. When I got the call that he was being born, I was out on a long shift and got to the hospital sometime late in the night. When I walked into the room Mom, Dad and Jacob Matthew were all fast asleep. I was so overwhelmed that all I could do is gently place my hand on my precious grandson, weep... and pray, thanking my awesome God for such an amazing gift. After committing my sweet little Jacob to the Lord, I quietly left... no one even knew that I had been there. Four days later I asked his mom and dad if I could take Jake to a friend's house to show him off. Six hours later I had pretty much covered the whole eastern portion of the San Gabriel Valley, making sure that every single one of my friends got to see my first grandchild. By that time, mom, dad, the other grand parents and the great grandparents were frantic trying to find us. He's 17 years old now and our relationship is as close as it was when he was just a toddling crumb grabber. Stay close to him Paul, love him like there's no tomorrow, love him like you'll never have another one... it is so worth it! My second grandson... again, I am so blessed... another story!!! Thanks again Paul... great post!

Reply
  about 4 years ago
  

So glad to hear that you're still close. I always hoped that one day my son and I would sit together in a pub somewhere, which we did, both smoking pipes (before the ban). Now the idea is to live long enough to share a pint with Caleb. Your story is very moving.

Reply
  about 4 years ago
Kymee  

I have a photo of this very blog wish you could see it. I now know how my husband was feeling, thank you. Has he called you Papa yet wow that is cool, kinda a bummer for grandma as she is doing most of the work but it is neat to see my husband's face light up.... Love this, Thank you for sharing a little part of your head. ; O) God bless Kymee

Reply
  about 4 years ago
  

He hasn't called me anything yet Kymee, other than "dad!" which he calls everything. So far though I'm the only one in the family that he'll fight to get to if anyone else is holding him, which feels nice. The most common expression from my wife at that point is "Meh!".

Reply
  about 4 years ago
Eric15  

Hi Lewiston, Agreed that your grandchild is a gift from God! How precious.

Reply
  about 4 years ago
  

Not sure who Lewiston is, but all grandchildren are gifts from God. Don't be fooled by that innocent face of his though. He's growing up fast!

Reply
  about 4 years ago

I enjoyed this article so much. My 3rd great grandchild (a boy) was born on August 7th. Searching those little faces, you write every little detail into your heart.

Reply
  about 4 years ago
  

Caleb spends one day a week with his great-grandparents. The day after he's gone they go into a bit of a slump because their house is so quiet again. I would love to see great-grandchildren and I'm hoping I follow after my grandfather, who died at two months short of 100. If I followed after my dad's parents I'll be dead in a couple of years, so fingers crossed..!

Reply
  about 4 years ago
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