Tuesday, April 18, 4:44 a.m. the phone rings. The land line. Only one person ever calls our land line. At 4:44 a.m., it must be serious. I struggle awake and grab the phone. An unexpected voice says "hello". It's my daughter. She never calls the land line. We text. "I'm at the hospital. Things are moving fast. You can come... whenever." We get to the hospital in Kitchener at 6:20. Barely an hour after the baby came into the world. Then it strikes me. I've been grandfathered! Two weeks early.
I wasn't ready. But I wouldn't have been ready if Ava Isabelle Kratz had waited until this week to arrive, as scheduled. I'm still too young! I have to remind myself my father was three years younger than I am now the first time he was grandfathered, a week after his 55th birthday. I don't know what to do, how to be, now that I've been grandfathered! All I had to do was hold her. All I've had to do since Ava was born was hold her. And burp her, of course. All I've had to be is still. And proud. And fearful for her future in this world. And determined to do all I can to keep her safe in this world.
I discovered another consequence of being grandfathered. My daughter isn't my little girl anymore. My son in law isn't the boy who took her away from me. We're all adults now. All parents. We share the most important job in the world. Yes, the relationship has changed, even more than it did a year ago when Maggie and Brian got married.
I also discovered that, 32 years after I first held a newborn child, my emotions are the same as they were then. I was back in that hospital room in Listowel for a sacred moment, feeling that fragile being give and receive warmth in my arms. Back in those days Dads had to wear hospital gowns. I didn't miss that part of the experience.
When people around me have congratulated me for being grandfathered, I've often responded, "Thanks, but I didn't do anything." But I have done something, after all. Not just providing Ava with a good chunk of her genetic composition. That really frightens me! More than that, I was a father, a co-parent. I shared in raising a daughter, who is now a loving, fearless mother. Her mother and I can look at Maggie and say, "We did good." In fact, she is the only part of my life and my accomplishments that I can be unreservedly proud of. Nothing else counts.
To be a parent is to be a co-creator with God. Whether we birth or adopt our children we help God create and sustain lives. Not just human beings of flesh, blood, and breath. But living souls, a la Genesis. When we're grandparented we remember that. We have a chance to share in creating a new life, too.
It's best to begin this fresh chance to be a co-creator with humility, gratitude, fervent prayer, and a durable credit card.
Oh, please forgive me. I haven't finished the book on children's spirituality that I promised to read last time I posted on the blog. I've been busy.