Grandparents can be important...or insignificant. They can be a regular presence...or an occasional memory.
I knew only one grandparent and only vaguely recall seeing a photograph of the others. I know nothing about my father’s parents, because they both died when he was too young to form memories of them. Strangely, I know quite a bit about his grandfather, perhaps more than he did, because of a book about him (Custer’s Lost Officer, by Walt Green).
Because my one grandmother lived with us for as long as I can remember until she died (I had long since left home for private school, college, and military service), I heard stories of her husband: my mother’s father and my grandfather. Some were surely true. I believe that he was a cabinet maker, a higher form of carpentry. The family must have had money, because they lived in a large house in Keene, New Hampshire. I do not recall my grandmother ever mention having been employed. I learned that he would rise early to fish at a secret fishing hole to catch his breakfast. This item was often imparted as I ate corn flakes: the latest trend in American breakfast food and one easier to source than fresh fish.
Why do I relate this? Being a grandfather, I think about my relationship with the child, who spends much time with me. I see him regularly and take care of him. I believe that we have a special bond...until I recall my relationship with my grandmother, who I saw every day.
At some point, children grow up and leave home. Special relationships, built on caring, trust, and shared memories, are diminished by new, stronger ones with peers. Grandparents might or might not be a part of one’s life, but their significance becomes less and less...until they become memories, only occasionally trawled from the cacophony of the past and present.
One should take what one can get and not expect to much, because that would only diminish the enjoyment of something special.
_ One does not come in contact much with 10-hour old babies. At least, I do not.
I experienced my two children at that age, and now I have had a look at my first grandchild. Just like his mother at that age, he refuses to open his eyes. I’m not sure if that is a characteristic of the age or a defense mechanism. His mother turned out alright and still speaks with me, so I can hope for the best with Number One Grandson.
The first thing that I noticed...and informed his mother to do something about it...was that his finger nails needed cutting. Obviously, this is not a service provided in the womb. Other than his head (with tightly shut eyes) nothing else was visible, because of swaddling (that’s a word that I do not recall ever using, am not sure if it’s a word, but am too lazy to look up, and, if it is a word, am not sure if I am using it correctly now, ie. it might be an adjective needing a noun, such as clothes)
I was a bit disturbed that the kid does not have chin, but I checked photos of his mother at that age. She did not have one, so I guess it grows later...along with the brain. It would be unfortunate for the poor kid to have a weak chin, which explains why a weak chin is often called an unfortunate chin.
For the first time ever, I have been able to remember something about our children, which my wife got wrong. (She always gets vacation facts wrong). She totally missed on recalling their birth weights, which is surprising since she had to lug them around until I was able to pitch in. I guessed correctly. After ultrasound measurements, my daughter complained that her baby would be so large. He came out weighing in only 200 grams (that’s two chocolate bars) more than she had and the exact same length (height?).
These days, hospitals offer something called rooming-in. The father is allowed to stay in the room with mother and child. This means that he gets a head start on having sleepless night. When my children were born, they slept in an infant nursery and I slept at home. We all got together soon enough and (enjoyed) sleepless nights as a family. I did not need or miss the head start provided to new fathers.
It will be interesting to see when the kid eats his first chocolate (if his mother will share)...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.