What a beautiful story we just got here at BoomerCafé from contributor Alan Paul of Hawthorne, New Jersey. He’s finally a grandfather! And what he writes about is not just the joy of reaching these ranks for which he has waited so long, but of the love that goes along with it. Now, as he proudly says, he’s “grandfathered in.”
I’ve never been a grandfather before. So how was I supposed to know what it felt like?
What does it feel like? Hard to describe; it’s only been a few weeks. But I’ll try …
It’s wonderful, of course, at least as far as I can determine with my limited experience. Wonderful, but a little weird, too. Kind of like the first time I had sushi: I knew right away that it would be a regular part of my diet from that point forward. But it was… different. They tell me the weirdness disappears pretty quickly, and the wonderful just gets wonderfuller and wonderfuller.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, just a few weeks ago, my daughter Carolyn and son-in-law Jonathan welcomed little Ellis Rose into their lives and into ours as well. My wife Jan and I knew, of course, that he-or-she would be making an appearance sometime around Christmas; it’s a difficult thing to conceal, you understand. But we didn’t know if he would be a she or vice versa. Then, at 5:55 a.m., in a delivery room at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, there she was, in all her profound glory! She was a Christmas gift like none other and one which, in all probability, none of us will ever see the likes of again.
Those of you who have been kind enough to sample my pieces here at BoomerCafé over the past few years may recall that our daughter was adopted from Korea. We welcomed her delivery, from the body of a 747, when she was three-months-old. At the time I remember my mother chastising me about making her wait until she was 70-years-old before blessing her with a grandchild. Now I find myself staring the big seven-oh in the face, as I also stare, with love and wonder, at the perfect, angelic face of my first grandchild.
So, this grandbaby adventure came to us later in life than many of my boomer compatriots, and is different from most of yours in another rather striking though obvious way: Ellis Rose carries the genetic code of neither myself nor Jan. We are not connected to her through DNA, but perhaps through something even stronger: the double-helix of a love so powerful that it can never be broken. We shared this non-genetic love-code with our daughter Carolyn, and it has been passed along in a non-biological— but still logical— progression.
My dear departed mother-in-law, who had five children in the more conventional manner, used to say that “blood is thicker than water.” While that is literally true, in the expression’s broader meaning it fails to take into account the indelible, irrefutable bond of love. When she’d say this, I would counter that it is not always true. “The two most vitally important people in my life,” I’d say, “are my daughter and my wife — neither of whom is ‘blood’ to me.”
As I think about it now, there is a part of me that felt Jan and I had been somehow cheated out of the first three months of Carolyn’s life. We never acknowledged it, and neither did she. But here we are, thirty years later, having the opportunity to cherish those lost months. My 100-year-old mother always says, “God is good.” I must admit that I didn’t always agree with her. But there’s no denying that He sure did a terrific job grandfathering me in. Thanks, Big Guy.
Some of retired editor and writer Alan Paul’s other work is available on The Frog Blog.