Not so long ago, when I didn’t yet have any grandchildren of my own, I walked into a friend’s dining room and was intrigued—and a little jealous–to discover that six of the chairs around her table had toddler booster seats strapped into them.
“Wow,” I said. “That’s a lot of babies!”
“Once my kids got started having kids of their own, it was like popcorn popping,” she said with a laugh.
Now I know exactly what she was talking about. This time two-and-a-half years ago, I didn’t have even one grandbaby. On March 10, my fifth arrived, joining one boy and three girl first cousins. The good news is that this wee one is healthy and strong. The bad news is that baby and parents—daughter Meg and son-in-law Andrew–live in Denver. As in Colorado. As in 1200 miles from Cookeville, Tennessee.
It’s the first time I haven’t been able to jump in the car and head to the hospital as soon as I got word that a grandbaby had arrived. After I learned that Meg’s labor had begun in earnest, I paced the floor like an expectant dad in an old-timey T.V. situation comedy. She was determined to give birth naturally, without an epidural or any other kind of pain relief. In my day, we called it Lamaze—a nice name for interminable hours spent sweating and screaming and swearing. I gave birth that way three times myself and am eternally grateful that I’ll never have to do it again.
Meg and Andrew did something else that not many expectant parents do these days. They didn’t find out the baby’s sex ahead of time. By early March, the whole family had put bets on whether it was a boy or girl, how much he or she would weigh, and what the birthday would be.
Harkening back to the four years of Latin I took in high school, I chose the 15th—the Ides of March—and guessed that the bouncing baby boy would weigh seven pounds even and be named Julius. Caesar was optional as a middle name. All but one other family members also guessed boy, with varying birth dates and birth weights.
Were we ever wrong!
Josephine Ivey Yon made her grand entrance at 6:01 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. She’s named after Andrew’s and my late mothers, both of whom were Mary Josephine. She weighed in at a whopping six pounds, two ounces and was 18 ½-inches long.
Now for the big question. Did I, at long last, get a red-headed grandchild? Nope. Josephine’s hair is dark and curly, just like her daddy’s. But you know what? I’m crazy mad in love with her anyway, even though I haven’t yet laid eyes on her. By the time this newspaper hits your driveway, I will have. Though I can’t hop in a car and drive to Denver like I do to Kentucky or east Tennessee, I can hop on an airplane.
When I arrive in the mile-high city, I’ll swoop that little bundle of love into my arms and whisper how glad I am that she’s finally here. I’ll tell her how much I wish the Josephines who came before her could hold her in their arms. I’ll study every inch of her and wonder aloud who she’ll come to look like as she grows.
And I’ll look forward to the time when five of the chairs crowded around my dining table will have booster seats strapped into them.
(March 22, 2015)