A Grandfather’s Joy

It’s a girl!

I’m officially nuts now. I’m truly unhinged.

Last week, I drove my pregnant daughter-in-law, Cassie, and my girlfriend, Liz, to meet my son at the office of Cassie’s ob-gyn in Winchester.

It was the big event, the day we would discover whether Cassie is carrying a boy or a girl. I was honored that she and John asked me along.

They issued the invitation spontaneously, out of the goodness of their hearts. I only had to beg three or four times, “Can I go? Please? Please?”

They invited Liz, too, I’m pretty sure in the hope she’d stop me from embarrassing myself-and them.

The doctor’s office apparently has a rule that only two people can accompany the expectant mother into the room where the ultrasound is performed. Liz waited in the lobby, while John and I went in with Cassie.

Cassie stretched out on an examining table. The technician flipped off the lights. She touched the wand to Cassie’s belly. We watched a TV screen mounted on the wall.

And there that little sweetie was, right before my eyes, all one pound of her.

Oh, she put on a show. She played with her hands. She kicked her legs. She did a somersault, trying to escape the annoyance of the buzzing wand.

We saw her eyes, nose and mouth. We saw her spine, liver and pumping heart.

And we saw that she’s a she.

I tried to act mature. As we watched the TV, I limited myself to profound statements such as, “Mmm” and “Is that her spine or the umbilical cord?”

“Are you OK?” John asked me.

“Sure,” I said. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“You’re awfully quiet,” he said.

I think he expected me to drop to my knees, slap the tiles with my palms and shriek like a hyena. He’s spent 25 years with me, after all.

Afterward, we returned to the waiting room and told Liz what we’d learned. We showed her still photos taken from the ultrasound video. She giggled.

The four of us went outside and stood on the sidewalk chatting.

“Are you OK?” John asked me.

“I’m fine.”

At last, Cassie and John got in John’s car.

Liz and I climbed into my car. I waved goodbye to John and Cassie.

As they pulled away, I fell over on Liz’s shoulder and wept.

I hope not to wax melodramatic, but I never thought I’d survive to see this day.

Just a few years ago I was at the lowest point of my life. As many of you remember, I helped nurse my wife, Renee, through five dreadful years of cancer. In the meantime, my mother got sick and died. Then Renee died.

During those ordeals, I developed diabetes, hypertension, depression. I wasted away spiritually, physically and emotionally.

I became convinced I wasn’t far behind Renee and my mom, that I’d collapse any day of a heart attack or stroke. I’d be gone long before John could marry and have kids.

Yet here I am.

Of course, along with my immeasurable joy, I also feel sorrow. I wish Renee had lived to see our grandbaby. I wish my mom could see her. They’d be ecstatic.

I don’t have a clue why God allowed Renee and my mom to die, and let me live. Both of them were better people than I am. I have a lot of questions to ask the Lord if and when I make it to heaven. For now, the situation just is what it is.

There was a time, when I was younger, that I accounted myself the most blessed man in Kentucky. I had a lovely and devoted wife, a terrific son, perfect health, jobs I loved, plenty of money. I thought all that would last forever.

It didn’t. Through no real fault of our own, my family and I fell into a hell we couldn’t foresee-disease, darkness, turmoil. I began to think that would last forever.

It didn’t. Therein is both our curse as humans and our blessing: whatever we’re experiencing, it will, in time, pass.

Today, once more, I’m overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. When I do leave this world, I’ll leave knowing I’ve seen my beautiful granddaughter.

Today, I’m again the happiest man in the Commonwealth. And the cause for much of my delight is kicking and rolling and blinking in Cassie’s womb.

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