re-post from 05/02/14
My wife and I had been waiting at a hospital up in the Sierras since early in the morning. I had left work early as soon as my wife called me to let me know that the water had broke.
I first took that to mean we halown a pipe or something.
It was mid-summer, northern San Joaquin Valley in California, a time and place not known for burst water pipes.
My mind was someplace else.
June 30, 2005
approximately 1:30 AM
Midway through the day, the doctors decided that they would feel much more comfortable about things if our daughter-in-law would be transferred down to a larger hospital in Sacramento where they would be better prepared to handle some complications they thought might come up. A very small, but plausible matter.
It was a long day in Sacto. A whole bunch of pacing, waiting for our son to come down to the family waiting room to tell us, well, anything there was to hear. Of course, we wanted to hear the news as quickly as when we first got down there, but it turned out to be an even longer day in Sacramento.
To pass the time, I was fielding calls on my cell phone from Jeff and Don Bruno and Yolanda and Laura and Julie and half of The Smoking Section down at work, Liz handling the ones from her friends at work Marion and Maria, our daughter Emmie and Liz’s brother Matt.
There was only so much music we could listen to in the Dakota before the battery went dead, and whatever tone-deaf Champagne Music junkie programmed the hospital PA system apparently had never heard of The Boss or Neil or even “Achy Breaky Heart”, so we spent a lot of time in prayer, a lot of time reading the same three-year-old copies of “The New Yorker” and the Sacramento Bee.
I think I had the Red Sox box score from the night before memorized by about noon.
Johnny Damon went two-for-five, Trot Nixon two-for-four (both doubles), they pitched around Papi, and Wakefield went seven giving up two runs to Cleveland for his seventh win in front of the Fenway Faithful.
And I wandered around. I must have covered miles just circling the hospital campus countless times, like I would do with Jeff and Yolanda over at the old, abandoned Mental Hospital grounds next to our office.
Liz was glued to her seat in the family room down the hall from delivery for a good portion of the day. She was Grandma already: had to be close by in case our son, our daughter-in-law, our grandson or the doctors really, really needed her there.
Spent a whole bunch of time thinking of what I would say to our son when I first saw him after the birth of his first child.
And I got poetic. I was on a roll. It was touching, profound, emotional, sincere, even more profound and just lighthearted enough to take the shakes away.
Our son was about as psyched as a soul could be.
I don’t know when he first started thinking about a moment like this, but I had probably started thinking about it shortly after the first time I ever swaddled him before it was time to place him on my lap in our orange recliner and watch re-runs of “The Rockford Files” every morning of his first few months before I left for work.
Twelve hours and way too many cigarettes later, about 1:00 AM, Liz needed some fresh air, I needed to get at least some feeling back in my ass, and we both needed – yes, damnit – another smoke. So we had to head out outside about four lanes into the parking lot to keep it legal. I don’t think Security frankly gave a shit, knowing we were there for over half a day for a reason.
And I’m sure they recognized the looks and the behaviors.
We get back up to the fifth floor, walk out of the elevator, and Liz is off like a shot, racing through a door to our left leading towards the recovery rooms.
In space, in time, in movement, in thought.
Looking through a glass door that simply but elegantly
had the words
“Labor & Delivery ”
painted on it in a quasi-Edwardian gold-leaf script.
Looking through the door, half way down the hall to seeour only son holding his first son.
The only walk longer I can remember taking towards my son in the previous twenty-five years was walking towards the mound just before the start of the sixth inning of a one-hit gem to pull him from the game and bring in Eric for relief … just in case we needed his one final permissible inning for Justin to be able to come in for a crucial appearance during a possible tie breaker the next day for the Championship he had pitched his heart out to clinch that day.
And as long as that walk was down the hallway, with the doctor having retreated into the washroom, with Liz having gone in to check on Vanna, my son and his son stood waiting for me quietly.
Josiah cradled in Justin’s arms, bathing in his amazing smile.
And I forgot everything I was going to say.
Everything I thought would be appropriate, celebratory, comforting, supportive, encouraging, memorable, loving …
and, of course, pretty fucking profound and poetic.
I was at a complete and utter loss for words until I was finally able to lift my gaze from my grandson’s barely opened eyes, and into our son’s, past his joyous tears …
… and I knew exactly what I had to say:
“Try to remember whatever it was I did right,
but don’t you dare forget
even a single thing I ever did wrong.”