The day I fell in love with my grand­daugh­ter Emma

The Morning Call - - TOWN SQUARE - By Pa­trick T. Rear­don

“I was hon­ored and touched and hum­bled that Emma’s par­ents would link me in this way to this un­be­liev­ably lov­able, squirm­ing, yawn­ing, stretch­ing tiny hu­man be­ing. And I like that, in this small way, she will carry a piece of me into her fu­ture.”

Afew weeks ago, I fell in love with a younger woman — a much younger woman. A girl, re­ally. Well, ac­tu­ally,

a baby.

She was born a lit­tle af­ter 4 o’clock on a Mon­day af­ter­noon, and, al­though I’d known she was on her way, I was as­ton­ished at how beau­ti­ful and strong and in­no­cent and vul­ner­a­ble this lit­tle baby girl — my grand­daugh­ter — was. And is.

I was also as­ton­ished at her name, the name that our son David and our daugh­ter-in-law Tara gave to her: Em­ma­line Pa­trick Rear­don. I was hon­ored and touched and hum­bled that Emma’s par­ents would link me in this way to this un­be­liev­ably lov­able, squirm­ing, yawn­ing, stretch­ing tiny hu­man be­ing. And I like that, in this small way, she will carry a piece of me into her fu­ture.

I know it’s a fu­ture that is likely to ex­tend far be­yond my re­main­ing time on the face of the Earth, and I’m OK with that. Emma, at this point in her new life, is filled with po­ten­tial. She seems fairly calm and cu­ri­ous, but it will take months and years for her per­son­al­ity to be­gin to emerge and take shape.

None­the­less, I’m hand­ing this world over to her now. It’s her in­her­i­tance and hers to do with what she wants. As daunt­ing as that may sound, it’s what ev­ery baby faces upon en­ter­ing this hu­man life, a life that can be a vale of tears or a land of milk and honey but is usu­ally a mix of the two.

From the van­tage of my nearly 70 years, I envy Emma all of the mag­nif­i­cence and beauty that await her, like fall­ing in love the first time. Or see­ing and re­ally notic­ing the in­ter­play of shades of green as the branches of the tree out­side her win­dow dance in sun and shadow and a gen­tle breeze. Or win­ning a race. Or dis­cov­er­ing the deep harmony of heart­felt friend­ship. Or get­ting lost in a great novel (maybe, even, Jane Austen’s “Emma”). Or find­ing the love of her life (as I did, back in 1981, when I met Cathy, the woman who is now her grand­mother).

I also know, alas, that Emma’s life won’t all be sweet­ness and light.

Her im­mac­u­lately per­fect skin will be marred. I re­mem­ber how her fa­ther, at the age of 2, rolled down a small hill in the neigh­bor­hood. When he stood up, I could see that some­thing in the grass had cut his leg just above the knee. He paid no at­ten­tion to the small amount of blood but ran to the top to roll down again. I went to him to clean the wound, feel­ing a lit­tle gloomy that his un­blem­ished skin was now blem­ished.

Emma’s heart will be bro­ken. She’ll find out stuff about her­self that she won’t like. (Her fa­ther and her Aunt Sarah still com­plain to me that they in­her­ited the Rear­don gene for be­ing slow afoot.) And, like any hu­man, she’ll make mis­takes — flunk a test, miss an im­por­tant shot on the basketball court, drive the car a lit­tle too fast, trip over her own two feet.

Oh, poor Emma. I hate to think of you be­ing sad or frus­trated or ir­ri­tated. But that’s what you in­her­ited when you made your ap­pear­ance on this Earth. That, and so many joys and de­lights. Life, you’ll find, is a great ad­ven­ture with a great mix of a whole lot of ev­ery­thing. You’ll know pain and ela­tion, some­times at the same time. You’ll be bored and you’ll be ex­cited and you’ll be con­fused. (Ac­tu­ally, if you’re like me, you’ll be con­fused a lot of the time.) You’ll mourn and you’ll find hope.

Hope is very im­por­tant. Hold tight onto your hope, Em­ma­line Pa­trick, es­pe­cially in the tough­est mo­ments. It’ll help you en­dure un­til it’s time again to en­joy.

And, maybe 60 or 70 years from now, maybe sooner, you will find your­self look­ing into the eyes of a new­born girl child or boy child. And, when you do, I hope you feel as much sheer hap­pi­ness and glee as I feel now when I look at you.

I’m sure, ev­ery time you see that new baby, Emma, you’ll fall in love all over again.

Pa­trick T. Rear­don is the au­thor of eight books, in­clud­ing “Daily Med­i­ta­tions (with Scrip­ture) for Busy Dads.”

DAVID REAR­DON

Pa­trick T. Rear­don with grand­daugh­ter Em­ma­line Pa­trick Rear­don.

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