Native Writes: Generations of love


A friend just posted photos of a newborn girl – his first grandchild -- on social media. What a wonderful gift to the world!

I thought of the first newborn I ever saw. My youngest half brother and his wife had their first child, a boy, and my first thought was that he was ugly.

I was 6 and my point of reference was my Betsy Wetsy doll. Her face was pink and smooth and even, while his was red and wrinkled.

He also smelled like my doll, the unforgettable odor of sour milk. I asked if they planned to give him milk, since my doll had to be thrown away after I fed her milk and it soured in her “plumbing.” I didn’t want him to be thrown away.

His mom showed me how he was fed. From her chest. Under her robe.

He wailed, belched, and was placed in his bed. They called it a bassinet. He waved his arms and legs as if attempting to escape.

His first Christmas was spent lying on his back, looking at a silver tree with blue ornaments. He chewed on his whole hand, kicked his feet and gurgled.

“See? He loves Christmas,” I was told.

I supposed. He was cuter and fatter, but still didn’t fit my image of a pretty baby.

Digging through some old family photos, I found a picture of him at about age 1. Not bad.

As time passed, his dad got a really good job in eastern Colorado and I missed the births and growing up of his three brothers and sister. In the photos, they looked nice.

“Nice.” It was my aunt’s word, used to admonish me when I did something that she declared would make it impossible for her to show her face in public ever again. Forget the fact that there were usually just a couple of family witnesses.

Then I gave birth to three sons. OMGoodness! They were beautiful! I took tons of pictures of number one, fewer of number two and only several of number three.

Why? The novelty wore off. I didn’t carry around a myriad of photos when they were always there for my personal “show and tell.”

My mom had some photos in her purse. She was a proud grandma and her grandchildren were absolutely wonderful.

Okay… Even when she held each and was on hand for the inevitable diaper changes, spit ups and loud wailing, she was smitten.

As they grew through the teenaged years into manhood, she was their greatest fan. No one was as talented, good looking and spectacular.

Even when she learned her days were numbered, her love was still strong.

Today, I have two grand daughters and a grandson. When they were small, I carried their photos in my purse and everyone willing to look naturally saw how beautiful they were.

I didn’t have newborn photos and really can’t say why not. I waited until the pointed heads, settled down and the faces plumped up.

I can say the love I feel as a grandparent is deeper, stronger and more profound than anything I felt before. They are teenagers and not the small, cuddly creatures who sat on my lap and watched Christmas movies, wanted “Cars” played daily and sought the pink in the world.

A friend once advised me that I would fight to the death for any one of them and I admit this is true. If anyone wants to see crazy, just mess with any one of them.

Looking back, I recall my first nephew, who grew up in a good family, graduated high school and enlisted in the Navy, which took him to Vietnam and direct combat. He is still physically paying the price for war. I can never thank him enough for his service. His two brothers also served and are thanked equally.

When I last saw him, for his dad’s funeral, he was huge, with mass weight gain caused by medications. He couldn’t hear well and has since had cochlear implants.

I’m not comparing him to an action figure, except that I know he wore fatigues and a large red cross during much of his service.

Speaking of his grandchildren, he shows, as my parents and my friend, the new grandfather did, that the love of a grandparent is like none other.

I know that when a child one loves has a child he or she loves, there is no depth to the devotion.
What a wonderful gift to the world!

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