My grandson found this picture on my coffee table and said, “Who is this cute baby?” I told him it was me. He said, “Grammy, you were such a cute baby, no wonder you are so pretty now!” My heart melted.
(But there’s so much more to this picture.)
What? Where did this come from? Yes, that’s me, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen this picture, and it’s fifty years old! I found it this summer when I was helping my dad do some cleaning at his house. I was shocked. I have two baby pictures. Two. And those two show a little waif during the summer time in her underwear…in one, I’m carefree in the sprinklers, cooling off from the boiling Texas heat. Cool pictures, but I don’t look like I belong to anyone. Once my friend took out her pile of baby pictures to show me, and I didn’t have one picture at the time to show her. The interesting part about that is that I’m the oldest! (There should be a plethora of pictures!)
But this picture…this picture is special…it’s me..me and my daddy, and what he loved most, cars, especially his Oldsmobile. He does look nervous holding me.
Why is this picture important to me? You see, I’ve been writing my dad’s story. It’s a story of a “vaulted” man who hasn’t talked much more than about the weather and fishing, and occasionally on a good day about cars. When it comes to writing the book, it’s been a challenge because either he doesn’t remember (he has Alzheimer’s) or because he doesn’t give me juicy details or emotion. (There’s not even an essence of a story for me to write from.) Last week, it was time for me to write the portion of my dad’s story of when he first became a dad. This picture gave me the courage to go deeper, and it was a picture my dad could remember.
On the phone, my daddy said, “You want to know about when you were born?” His voice was high pitched and had an excited tone. “Why yes, dad, that would be awesome!” I NEVER heard my dad with this much fervor telling me about something. So, for about ten minutes with full on expression (and I imagine lots of hand gestures) my dad weaved the most elaborate story I’ve EVER heard him tell.
Daddy proceed with giving me descriptive details of his trauma of being a new dad. No one told him how long it would take for mom to deliver me, several days, or most importantly, how ugly I would look with all goo still on me when they plopped me in his hands.
“What happened to my baby?” he asked the nurses. They hadn’t prepared him to see all the blood and ick on me, let alone what the forceps would do in giving a baby an exceptionally elongated alien head. He was sure that baby was not his. I looked nothing like those beautifully cleaned up babies he had seen on television.
Daddy painted the picture of how nervous he was when the nurse handed me to him (with all the goo). “I was so afraid I would drop you because you were so tiny, and I had never held anything so tiny before. I didn’t want to break you.”
To many, this brief telephone interaction may not be much, but I remember smiling ear to ear and being so proud that I got a chance to hear my dad tell a story from his heart all animated. When the call was over, I was terribly disappointed, because of all the calls I’ve recorded, this would be the one I would cherish forever…but alas, on this day, that beautiful conversation would only be between me and daddy, and it will remain near and dear to my heart.