I called the grandfather-to-be last week(expectant grandfather doesn't sound quite right for some reason) just to take his temperature. I asked him how he was holding up.
His youngest daughter had gone into labor in Birmingham. Here we go!
" You know," Don said. "Some things just don't seem possible. The first time I felt like this was when you retired. I looked in the mirror and asked myself 'How can this be possible?'," he said.
"Then a year later Annie tells me she's going to have a baby. Again, I looked in the mirror and asked myself 'I'm old enough to be a grandfather. How can this be possible?'"
I confess that this is sufficiently surreal to me to as well. Come October 1st I will have been divorced from Uncle Sam two whole years. There are no bears in the windows. No wolves at the doors. I sometimes feel like I ought to be doing something more than what I am doing. But obviously, I'm not working real hard at trying to figure it out.
I was still gainfully employed when Annie blew through town. She was going to Oklahoma City for some reason and stopped here to spend the night with me. I'm thinking 5 years ago. I was still working. I was still with J and Hugh was still alive.
We all had a great time. We went for pizza that night. I took Annie to breakfast the next day. She said that I looked nice in a suit. I, in turn, sternly lectured her on the importance of an education. Lucky her. I'm surprised she ever spoke to me again.
And now that goofy kid with the big brown eyes has a daughter. Alexandra is her name. Mother and baby are fine. I would be happy if Mother and Grandmother would return phone calls from Little Rock. But it's OK. They are kinda busy.
Of course, Alexandra is both beautiful and miraculous in equal measure, as all babies are. My friend Ann has had 5 of them. She said the first thing she did each time a new baby was placed in her arms was to count fingers and toes. That was her threshold completely unscientific way of ascertaining that each new kid was OK.
As far as I know, little Alexandra has the full compliment of digits. And I do know that she comes into this world surrounded by a cloud of witnesses that love her very much. Loving parents, grandparents and great grandparents. At least one Aunt that I know of and a disreputable honorary Uncle back in Arkansas. That's a pretty good start. It doesn't hurt your chances in life when you start out with all kinds of folks that can't wait to hold you in their arms.
But Don's right. It doesn't seem possible. I can close my eyes and be transported back to Tulane in an instant. Don and Karin were dating. Now they are grandparents. I'm no longer working for the government (or working much at all actually).
And little Annie is a mama.
I will head over to Birmingham to make her acquaintance once the dust settles. To the extent the dust ever really gets settled when a new baby arrives. There will be plenty of time for me to get to know her.
Actually, that's not true. While there's no great rush for me to get a look at her there's not plenty of time.
Alexandra's arrival punctuates the fact that 30 years just went by in a finger snap.
Like her Grandpa said, "How can this be possible?"