My oldest daughter has a new partner and a new baby daughter. They live across the country from us, and because of the COVID mess, Grandma and I were not there when she was born. Finally, after a month of waiting and wondering when we could see them, we jumped on a plane and went anyway. It was past time for us to meet our newest family member. The airports were virtually empty, as were the planes that took us west.
For context: both my daughter and her new man each have a daughter from their first marriages. They are four and five years old and have embraced each other as sisters. Because of geography, my interactions with my new step-granddaughter prior to this trip have been only via FaceTime. (and also brief…five-year-olds don’t sit still for long, you know.) We had not met in-person. Also worthy of note is that her Daddy’s dad – her biological grandfather – is not in their lives.
We arrived safely and met our new granddaughter, which was of course wonderful. One introduction down, one to go. A couple of days later, my step-granddaughter returned from her mother’s house. As I walked in the room to greet her, she looked up at me with her big blue eyes. Then she smiled and said, in such a sincere and childlike way, “Hello Papaw.”
The great America philosopher Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” CS Lewis was more erudite: “Shut your mouth; open your eyes and ears. Take in what is there and give no thought to what might have been there or what is somewhere else. That can come later, if it must come at all.”
Time suddenly, briefly and graciously stopped, and I was indeed able to take it in. In an instant, my life was transformed in a manner I didn’t expect. I didn’t anticipate and hadn’t imagined that a little girl who wasn’t my biological granddaughter would adopt me in an instant, and I would adopt her in return.
Life is who we are and what we become,
Life is not what we do;
Life gave me a precious gift
Becoming Papaw to three, not two.