What this article isn’t…
This article could be one that rapturously describes the incomprehensible miracle of birth, but it isn’t. The article could be one that proclaims my inexpressible, heart-filled joy from the rooftops, but it isn’t. The article could celebrate the pride, admiration, respect, and love I have for my daughter and son-in-law and their new baby, but it isn’t that either. The article could try vainly to truly understand the wonders, the marvels, and the mysteries of life as the legacy transfers from generation to generation to generation. But it isn’t that either. Or maybe it is.
What this article is…
This article is a huge question that I am absolutely sure is shared by nearly every other man who has become a grandfather.
How the hell can I possibly be a grandfather?!
I mean, good grief, I’m only a kid myself, aren’t I! Wasn’t it only yesterday that I dressed up like Davy Crockett? Or got that shiny brand new-used Schwinn bicycle on Christmas morning? It sure seems like it. Holy Smokes! How can I be a grandfather when I can still remember my father teaching me how to swim at Warner’s Lake? And the day I earned my First Class badge in Boy Scouts? It just doesn’t make any sense that these memories can be so vivid and recent-feeling when my daughter has just given birth to her daughter.
And about my daughter…
That’s another thing! It feels as though it was only minutes ago that I was holding her tiny, newborn infant body in the warm bath water, immediately after her birth. So, it simply can’t be possible that she is now the mother of a newborn infant daughter. It’s ridiculous. Isn’t it?
What about the day she tumbled from her bicycle and broke her collarbone and foot? Didn’t that happen only a short time ago? And her science fair trophy, her performances in musicals and choir. The day she took over the helm of our sailboat on a rough day so I could shorten sail. Her induction into National Honor Society. The year she spent in AmeriCorps on an island in Washington State. The published book of poetry she helped edit while still in college. The girl who treasures justice, equality, kindness, and fireflies. How can that little girl, who helped me build a snow stegosaurus, now have a successful career, a husband, and, most incredibly, a daughter?
How can it be possible?
For me to be a grandfather, isn’t it necessary for these events, images, memories, to have faded into a long-forgotten haze? How can it be possible for me to remember, to know, to see so clearly — my childhood, my teenage angst, and my youth – when now, two generations more have slipped into the hourglass? How can so much of the sand be gone when I can still feel so many, many grains of it?
Let me try to be clear. There is absolutely no regret. I am filled with pride, joy and peace beyond measure about the birth of her tiny, new life. The blessing is incalculable. But I just don’t understand this defying of the laws of space and time! Oh, I know it’s the way of life. I get that part. We are born; we grow and learn; we work and contribute; we love; and we pass along the world to our children and grandchildren. But, not while we ourselves are still filled with childlike wonder, awe and discovery.
Shouldn’t this “passing along” to our children and grandchildren wait until we have wearied of sunlight shining through the leaves, or the sounds and shapes of water flowing over rocks in a stream? Or have become jaded to the graceful sculpture of clouds, and the aroma of fresh-baked bread? Shouldn’t it be delayed until we can no longer remember the fun of playing soldier tag, skipping stones, flying kites; the sadness of not making the baseball team; the joy of the first day of summer vacation; the nervousness of asking a girl out for a date – the pain of her saying, no? Shouldn’t we need to forget these things before another generation experiences them?
Maybe not. Maybe we grandparents need to remember so we can help teach little ones about the joys, the heartaches, the wonders, and the challenges of life.
Amelia Brook Geurin was born to Kate and Dave on Monday, January 25, 2010. 8 pounds, 5 ounces, 21 inches tall.
Ed. Lange writes “Guy Stuff” monthly for Capital Region Living. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.