My first reaction was denial. A grandfather? Me? In my head I am still 19 years old, and that’s certainly too young to be a grandfather. Of course it is also too young to have children who are now in their 20’s. In the world outside my head I indeed have three adult kids (Adult kids? Is that an oxymoron?). In the real world my oldest son is soon to be 26, and sooner to be a father himself.
I remember the day Zach was born. Although we had moved to Rockland County we decided to still have “the baby” in Manhattan. I remember speeding down the Palisades Parkway with reckless abandon, hoping I’d get stopped by an eager Trooper just so I could have the satisfaction of pointing to Zach’s very pregnant mom in the back seat and continue on my high speed journey citation free… Yes, Zach, one of the first (of many) joys you gave your dad was a valid excuse to put the pedal to the metal…
And now another joy.
But at first I was in denial. Was my son ready to be a dad? How would that change his life? He is just establishing himself in his own career. How would it change my life? Was I ready to be a grandfather? Fortunately I came to my senses enough to realize that it is not about me, it is about my son… And his girlfriend… And their life together.
Still, I just wasn’t ready. I am from the school where you get married first, and then have kids, but I realize that social norms are different now, and the path my son is on is not as radical as it first seemed to me. And I know his girlfriend is a wonderful partner and loves my son wholeheartedly, as he does her, and I know she will be a wonderful mother. When Zach had a real scare, she was the one who saved him. I might not be ready, but Zach and Felicia are.
Unlike hesitant me, my own parents were thrilled at the news and instantly embraced it with the same love and excitement that I am sure they will embrace their great-grandson with. It was my mom who finally put some sense in me and helped me paddle my way out of denial and open my eyes to see how exciting it is that our family was entering a new generation, that my son was ready and able to be a dad. I was reminded that they, my parents, were only 22 when I was born.
Shortly after having that conversation with my mom I was in NY for the holidays and walking through the Christmas shops setup for the season in Bryant Park. It was a cold but beautiful day, the kind where you can walk around with a cup of hot coffee or tea or cider and the cold smoke of your breath competes with the rising steam of the drink, a drink you count on to warm your hands as much as your innards. Through wind-teared eyes I spotted them inside one of the crafty pop-up shops, the booties. When was the last time baby booties caught my eye? Never? But I had to have them. Hand made from thick organic wool they were perfect, and the perfect first gift for me to buy for my grandson. My grandson…
As I paid for the booties, I was suddenly struck with a wave – no a tsunami – of emotion. I was suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed with the realization my son was going to have a son, and I was going to be a grandfather. The cute little booties had finally made it real, made the tears start streaming down my face, and the lump of welled up feelings rise up in my throat. Finally, I was ready.
But I was not yet ready for enormity of the real thing. I had no idea how excited I would become as the due date approached. As I write this I am on a plane to North Carolina, where Zach and Felicia live. Where my grandson will be born, maybe even right now, while I am in the air, or later tonight, or sometime tomorrow. But I am not leaving North Carolina until I meet the little bugger, and hold him in my arms, and put those little booties on his feet.
To be continued…
UPDATE: My grandson, Liam David Sass, was born on April 10, 2014 at 11:36 pm. He entered this world weighing 9 lbs 3 oz, 21 amazing inches long. As someone who loves to write, and leans toward the verbose, I cannot find the words to fully and fairly describe the deep love, pride and joy I have for my son, for Felicia, and for my grandson. I was in awe as I watched Zach step up into his role as dad and partner, and wonderfully coach and support Felicia (who was amazing in her own right) through a long and uncomfortable labor. Even more indescribable is the instant love, bond and deep connection I feel to Liam, a bond I felt in the deepest corners of my being the moment our eyes connected for the very first time. He is a special little boy, and I am so very blessed to be his grandfather.
I have a feeling I will be spending a lot of time in North Carolina. I miss him beyond words already.