Alone With J
By J SWYGART
It was one week ago today — 4 a.m., to be exact — when the phone rang. On the other end of the line was our 15-year-old grandson.
“Darren’s here,” he said.
My reply went something like this: Huh ... what ... who is this ... what are you talking about ... what time is it?
Then the dots started to connect. Darren, I assimilated as slumber turned to semi-consciousness, was the name picked for our yet-to-be-born grandson. But his anticipated arrival (I thought) was still seven weeks away.
Apparently Darren didn’t get the memo. He couldn’t wait to enter this mixed-up, messed-up, jumbled-up world. He unceremoniously and quite unexpectedly arrived a little early — all 3 pounds, 11 ounces of him.
Officially born a Buckeye, Darren has been a temporary Hoosier since shortly after birth. He’s called the NICU unit at DuPont Hospital his home for the past week. He’s tiny, with tubes running here and there and everywhere, but is doing extraordinarily well. Mom, likewise. Grandma is excited beyond words. Grandpa, on the other hand, is just pretty much a wreck.
I don’t do babies well. Its been the better part of 15 years since I last held one. But that, apparently, is about to change. And as this is being written on Wednesday afternoon, I find my hands shaking just a little. Grandma and I are to hold Darren for the first time later today. He’s so little. What if I break him?
Okay, I can do this. I think. I’m gonna give it my best shot. And I already know it will be magical.
In the week since Darren’s birth, I have found myself often thinking back to when his brother Dylan was born. Free of the medical trappings that accompany a premature birth, Dylan nonetheless was a tiny bundle of joy that melted my heart. It seems only yesterday. But it wasn’t. Now armed with his driving permit, Dylan chauffeured us on a school clothes shopping trip only recently. He’s a strapping young man. And Grandpa is just older.
Hopefully he’s wiser, as well. With age comes responsibility, and in whatever time I have left I hope to impart to Darren the importance of treating people with decency and respect and caring for his fellow man. And how to hit a curve ball. So much to explain; so little time.
I remember when Dylan was first starting to walk. One day I was playing a guitar that had belonged to my own grandfather, now long deceased. When Dylan toddled up and playfully stroked the guitar’s strings, it was as if electricity coursed through my veins. I was at that moment, or so it felt at the time, the direct conduit between five generations. And at that moment, perhaps for the first time, I felt the responsibility that comes with growing older.
I look forward to getting to know Darren. He seems like a nice enough little fellow. Hope he feels the same about me. Hopefully we have a few years to figure it all out — together.
Welcome to the world, little buddy.