The memory of this day, fourteen years ago, can pop up in an instant. The phone call came. A little grandboy was on his way. Rae and I made our way to the hospital, and for my part, with lots of butterflies. It wasn't exactly the circumstances that fit a Norman Rockwell picture. Long before my own kid knew he was about to be a dad, he'd signed on the dotted line to be in the Army National Guard and duty called. He left on July 5th.
It was a very awkward situation for us all. It was not my first rodeo, so I offered a cold cloth, asked for a popsicle and told her we could change the bedding if ever she felt uncomfortable. She thought a popsicle sounded good, but her reflux was horrendous and didn't mix well with contractions and the excitement of the morning. It wasn't long until he was here, and how thrilled was I to be granted the courtesy of standing close and snapping away, capturing this long awaited day.
I wanted a big ol' bunch of kids. Handy Man believed three was a big ol' bunch, done and done, so I really sort of grieved for all the rest I would never have and soon that morphed into great expectation of the next generation. And there he was, early, but whole and healthy and perfect, thank the Lord. I remember how red his lips were. They put him in the incubator and sort of forgot he existed . Again, not wanting to make a fuss, I just stood there while he kicked and squirmed about in the incubator and the doc set to putting things in order with Ceece. Only half way through, the doctor got another call and just left her there in a very uncomfortable position, not finishing what needed doing. Finally this person in scrubs walks in and scoops the baby up and is heading out the door and we're all like, "Who are you and where are you taking the baby?" Leesh (Ceece's sister) went with the baby, who was going several floors away, and I stayed with Ceece until the doc finally returned to the job at hand.
She got to moved to a room, at last, still far from the baby. We got to go see him, settled in the nursery and I felt elated that he and momma were safe, but broken hearted that his Daddy still had no idea he was even here, and Ceece didn't have the person she wanted most to share the experience with.
I rushed to the store to develop the pictures as quick as I could, then rushed to send them with the news to Georgia.
Again, I wasn't sure what to do, so went back to visit and then, before long he was home. Ceece invited us over on Sunday afternoon to hold and coo at him. Monday was his follow up appointment. We were certain we would get another report that he was practically perfect in every way. Little did we know. At some point in this journey, he contracted a rare bacterial infection and his bilirubin was critically high. They sent us straight to the children's hospital, where he landed immediately in intensive care. The captain didn't yet know he had a baby and maybe now, well, who knew. We were completely devastated. So the waiting room is where we all lived for three weeks. After several days the devoted pediatrician finally figured out the mystery ailment, found the meds to treat it and our littlest bit, who by now was known as "Bean" began to recover.
Again, when the crisis had abated, I was still unsure how I would play into this picture. Ceece had a wonderful relationship with her dad's parents, so I've often wondered if that played into it, but from day one she was very open to our being very involved. I would go once a week and pick him up and return home for a few hours to sit on the porch and talk to him about all we could see.
I would pray for him, his mama and daddy, and read him books. Well, until Pap came home, then I was forced to relinquish him. Finally the Captain graduated from boot camp,
and never have you seen two people more smitten with each other than those two.
I kept him overnight on their first New Year's Eve and have every year since. He was my absolute joy and delight.
I didn't know I could love anyone like I did my own children, but love him just as fiercely I did and do. I bought a completely ridiculous amount of toys and clothes and books and baby gear.
More than we had for our own as Handy Man likes to mention.
I pushed the swing a million miles, as well as singing hundreds of songs and making tons of stories about whatever his current fascination happened to be -helicopters, Davy Crockett and on and on. My joy! He still is. Yesterday I watched him amaze us at a swim meet, but more on that later. Happiest Birthday to you Bean. I have no earthly idea how you could be so tall and so old.