Grammie ga-ga over 'rocket from Heaven'

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They warned me this would happen.

Even Camo Man worried a little. "You'll get that baby in your arms and never want to come home."

He wasn't quite right, but awfully close.

I arrived at my daughter's house in Portland the day she got home from the hospital with her brand-new son. I walked into the usual post-birth scene - infant car seat on the counter, a bulging diaper bag next to that and a vase of fading flowers.

There was my second child, looking surprisingly chipper after having a Caesarian section. She was a madonna, beautiful and glowing. Not the wan and pale patient I was expecting, with under-eye smudges and stringy hair.

In my daughter's arms was the source of her lighted smile. A tiny boy, no bigger than a generous loaf of bread, was sleeping the sleep of the just.

She put Mr. Macalicious in my arms and I immediately burst into tears.

It was an emotional flood of Biblical proportion, a salty dam burst of fears, yearnings and urgent whispers to God.

Here was Malcolm, an 8-pound rocket from Heaven that exploded two years of infertility issues and the overwhelming anxiety that a baby wasn't ever going to be.

Here was his fuzzy little head, already sporting the color of his daddy's genes and wafting that magical baby scent that makes grown people inhale deeply and close their eyes as their grins head upward.

Oh, my word, whoever said love cannot be defined has never held a baby Macadoodle.

Yet there was sadness that could not be refused. Although I had already shed some private tears on the night of my grandboy's birth, it hit me again and with more of a clobber - this was my late husband's first grandchild, arriving three years and three weeks after his grandfather's departure.

I always knew David was going to be an amazing grandfather. While he was not the most patient dad, he was a natural kid magnet. Long-time readers will remember me talking about the way tiny children lit up for the man who spoke fluent Donald Duck and told jokes toddlers laughed at.

I was sure that David, released from the pressures of parenting, would take to grandfathering like kittens to milk.

I imagined him rushing out to buy gizmos, books and clothes. It was one of his greatest joys - sneaking off before Christmas to buy whatever toy I had deemed too expensive or impractical. And he loved nothing better than acting on impulse to wade into the girls' section to fetch the laciest of lace and the pinkest of pink for our five daughters.

Bringing it all home with a delighted "cat-ate-the-parakeet" grin.

David's southern upbringing brought clashes to our own parenting years. While he usually let me have the very last word, sometimes the rigidity and unquestioning obedience his own father demanded reared it's old-school head. It happened more so as our babies turned into teenagers, making me the constant buffering agent and voice of reason. Unless I was losing it myself, of course.

Add in the terrible failures of parenting a severely mentally-ill child and we were not being nominated for Parents of the Year.

But I had not one atom of doubt that David was going to be the most awesome of granddaddies. He was going to get his reward for not turning away from the hard work while not turning into his own father at the same time.

He was going to get a Malcolm. To buy baseball mitts and pre-school Lego kits for, to teach about race cars, and to take out for deep-fried gizzards.

And here he was, in my arms in my daughter's kitchen. His own daddy was off on a pharmacy run and for a span of time, there was just the three of us. Tied together by genetics and history and the memory of a man who never got to cuddle this tiny, snoozing bundle.

I'm not sad for our little Macster, not at all. In just over 10 weeks, he's going to be the cutest guest at the joining of his Grammie and Grampa. It will be the official beginning of adventures this little guy will have with this man I love.

There's hunting and four-wheeling and camping and learning about life just around the corner for those two. Mac will beg his parents to let him come to our house, where he'll head out to the country with his Grampa. "Mama," he'll say, tugging her toward the computer. "Skype Grammie and Grampa and ask if they will come and get me."

We will, of course, as often as we're able. And once Macarooni is here, there will be no shortage of fried gizzards for my country boys.

I also see my tears will come again, though. Who knows when - maybe when Mac's grin turns up sideways or his head cocks over as he listens to music. Those will be the times I see the husband I loved inside the boy I treasure and adore.

"Grammie," Malcolm will ask, "why are you sad?"

That's when I'll pull out my best - and unlimited - David stories.

"Mac Baby, did I ever tell you about the time your mama was walking through the park with your granddaddy at the same moment a bird was flying overhead? Oh, if you could have seen your mama's head. She was so furious she was crying and your granddaddy about burst trying not to laugh ...."

Sheila Hagar can be reached at 509-526-8322 or sheilahagar@wwub.com

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