My grandfather’s bucket list.

When I was pregnant with my first, my grandfather shyly asked me if he could attend the birth. So shyly, in fact, he went through my mom.

Papa would really like to be there when Ames is born. He’ll stay wherever you put him, but he’s never seen a baby be born. Not even his own kids. You know they didn’t allow it back then.

I cannot even imagine what it would feel like to know my husband was out on the golf course smoking cigars while I sweated and grunted and bellowed a baby out into the world. Thank God I had him right there with me all three times for all four babies. Anyway, I told my mom that OF COURSE Papa could be at the birth. We had already announced we’d name our son after him, so it was only fitting.

I remember sitting on the birthing ball twenty-some-odd hours in. I was naked and nobody could keep me dressed to save a life. I’d yelled for my dad to be brought in, and he sat obediently and silently in the corner with a newspaper up, giving me an approving nod every now and then when I demanded eye contact. What can I say? I had some serious Daddy issues growing up.

But here’s what else I remember – my Papa. Being escorted in, after the midwives whispered that my mom might want to get him if he didn’t want to miss it. At this point, I’d lost count of how many adults were in a room cheering for me while I sat on a birthing ball, and then a birthing stool… naked. Tired, sweaty, swollen, sore. Defeated, as the night dragged on and the clock struck three and my son still hadn’t come yet.

But my Papa. Standing in the doorway, one fist in the air, smiling ear to ear with tears in his eyes. He had waited all night for this. He had waited his whole life for this. He quietly repeated himself over and over as Ames arrived into my hands.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

Fast forward six years. Ames had made the decision to follow Jesus a year prior, but the opportunity had come for him to be baptized. My grandparents faithfully made plans to attend, my mom scheduled to drive them down for the week. One night at dinner, we asked Papa if he had ever participated in a baptism. Declaring he hadn’t, we asked if he’d like to baptize Ames. He just smiled with an OF COURSE like the one I’d given him years ago.

Last night, I got to experience birth from a different angle. I stood outside the tub while my grandfather gingerly backed into the water to join my son. He stood patiently and followed the pastor’s cues, and then he helped lower my boy into the water and bring him back up again.

There he was again, smiling ear to ear with tears in his eyes. He had waited all day for this. He had waited his whole life for this. And don’t you know there was a fist in the air when it was all said and done, with a quiet but sure response to the celebration happening around him.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

6 thoughts on “My grandfather’s bucket list.”

  1. What an endearing and perfect story about the circle of life! Your Papa is very lucky to have you in his life, Rach. In fact, we are all blessed by you and your beautiful spirit. Thank you for sharing this lovely story.

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