The call came when I least expected it. I had just finished a huge late season window cleaning job and came home exhausted and I was falling asleep while opening the mail. Then Patty called. She said. “It’s time. He’s coming early.” In a daze, I replied, “Time? Coming?” Being a man, and a tired one, at that, she had to express herself with the utmost of clarity, “Michelle is having her baby. I am on my way home. We need to head to St. Paul as soon as possible.” Needless to say, I had not given any thought to our grandchild’s sudden arrival or our sudden departure.
We made super quick preparations for the six-hour trip that I made in a record five hours, speeding as fast as I thought I could get away with. It was 5:00 AM on November 24th when we arrived at the hospital. We were the first people other than his parents to welcome Sam into the world. He was tiny, 4 pounds, 3 ounces, but only a week premature. He was perfect.
As we left the hospital and drove to the hotel, a big beautiful buck dear ran across the street in front of our car and it was snowing. I took both events as Heaven smiling on the birth of my grandson. Before we crashed for a few hours, we ate what was the best, proudest, breakfast of my life. The server heard quite a bit about our grand baby.
Being a grandparent makes you crazy. I knew some crazy grandparents who were always showing everyone their pictures, rather they wanted to see them or not. What I didn’t know was I would be as crazy as any of them. It’s loads of fun being a picture-flinging, bragging, spoiling grandparent.
The weather was snowy that Christmas, too. It was so bad that the kids had to stop to spend the night near Madison on their journey from St. Paul to our home in the Chicago area. I have not been so excited and expectant about Christmas since I was a child. Actually, I was more even more excited than when I was a child. I kept playing the Trans-siberian Orchestra song, “This Christmas Day.” Every time I heard it, I was moved to tears (and still am) as I heard those words over and over, “She’s (my daughter) coming home, she’s coming home this Christmas Day.”
I had put together a slide show of pictures of the infant Sam to the tune of “Arms Wide Open” by Creed. When I showed to grandma, mom, and dad, there were some damp eyes.
That was thirteen years ago. Sam’s parents have done a beautiful job of parenting and he is a smart and fun boy.
The birth of a child changes people. My parents made one of their last trips to see Sam. My disabled brother found a new joy (and obsession.) Patty and I just became crazy.
I couldn’t miss the beautiful reminder of that Christmas: the expectation of a baby who changes people.