From Memoryland to Grandbabyland: Part One

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If I have been absent lately, I have a good excuse: My daughter gave birth to her first child, a baby boy she named after Ralph. BabyRalph is as adorable as every newborn—in other words his parents and grandparents find him an absolutely perfect specimen of infancy and expect everyone we send pictures to agree with us, whatever they really think.

The plan has always been that

1), Ralph and I would drive down to New Orleans once my daughter went into labor and stay for a few days after the birth before I drove Ralph home

2), I would then return to help out on and off as long as needed, having arranged plenty of back up help for him.

Needless to say I was nervous about both parts of the plan.

For one thing, Ralph was less than enthusiastic about going to New Orleans at all. He said babies scared him, and I believed him. He was always more a dog person that a small child person. While he was present as the births of our two kids, he is a proud member of the late sixties generation of macho activist guys that spouted feminism but didn’t actually live it. I’m sure he must have changed some diapers; I just don’t remember when.

As my daughter’s due date approached (and then passed), we all became more and more anxious. Ralph too. His concerns shifted from himself to the upcoming birth and all that could go wrong. He stopped worrying about his own travel. He started calling to check in on my daughter and son-in-law (Flyfisherman) nightly. When are we going down again? Do you know when she’s go into labor? became his new mantra, which he repeated throughout the day several times an hour. When the call finally came that labor had begun, he willingly got in the car, and he barely complained on the six-hour drive.

Once in New Orleans, things got a little trickier. Ralph does not like changing his routine and likes excitement even less. Fortunately the small AirBnB we rented had a little patio where he could smoke. Since labor was going slow and we were asked to stay away until BabyRalph’s actual arrival, Ralph stayed on that patio a lot while I picked up the other grandmother at the airport and BabyRalph’s twelve-year-old half-sister K from school. Fortunately Ralph also napped since we were not summoned to the hospital to meet BabyRalph until late that night.

On that first visit and again the next day, while Baby Ralph’s two grandmothers and an ecstatic K vied for turns to hold him in the little rocking chair the hospital provided, Ralph held back. He would not hold the baby and would only look at him from the small sofa across the room, not up close. The next day was the same until I sat on the sofa with the baby so someone could take a picture of the three of us together. Ralph looked at the baby. Ralph squinched closer. Ralph decided maybe, just maybe he’d try holding the baby.

Ralph took his namesake in his arms. Ralph began talking to BabyRalph. Ralph began singing Dylan songs to BabyRalph.  My daughter,  DaddysGirl, may have teared up a little. I might have too. We all snapped pictures of BabyRalph.Ralph held BabyRalph and held him some more, until it was time for a diaper change. It was a magical moment.

But it was only a moment. Ralph did not show interest in holding the baby again over the next two days before I drove him back to the farm where he greeted the dogs with great joy and relief.

Part One of the Plan was a success.

Part Two…. I’ll let you know soon enough.

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14 thoughts on “From Memoryland to Grandbabyland: Part One

  1. I just found your blog and enjoyed reading your post. I do think that baby Ralph is super cute and a charmer. Congratulations. We have 4 grandchildren (10, 8, 5 and 3) but they live in Tennessee. Now my husband does not remember them, he was diagnosed with MCI in 2008 which turned into Alzheimer’s. He is a patient of the Emory Brain Clinic in Atlanta and they told me last time we were there that he is in the “middle stages.” Sometimes he knows who I am and sometimes he thinks I am “the help” ! I’ll come back and read more of your past posts.

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    1. Welcome and thanks for writing. We too are at Emory. What you say about your husband and the grandchildren really struck home. I am going to try to help Ralph develop a relationship with this baby, even if he eventually loses the memory. He has three other grandchildren through my step-son but they are much older and grew up over seas and on the west coast so he doesn’t know them well. I have not been posting as often as usual while tied up in baby land. Hope to add something this week…..

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  2. He IS beautiful! Congratulations on entering Grandmamaland. I am glad Ralph had his moment with Baby Ralph.

    I remember Neil refusing to visit our granddaughter because he didn’t want to leave the dog for a few hours. And that is why she (the dog) went with us to the Ritz Carlton Oconee to celebrate our daughter’s 40th; he would have stayed home otherwise. The best way I can deal with it is to be happy that he has a living being that means so much to him and that can bring him joy (instead of saying, “You are choosing the dog over family!”)

    More pictures, please, when you go back.

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    1. Thanks for your compliment about BabyRalph. I am thinking that when I have more time at home, maybe we should get men and dogs together….You are right about whatever gives joy. Of course, I admit I have slipped up at times and shown pique. But I really do see his relationship with the dogs as therapeutic. Ralph definitely functions better around them.

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  3. Oh, congratulations to everyone and yes, Baby Ralph is gorgeous. And when he’s a little bigger I bet Grandpa Ralph will be delighted to hold him. In the meantime, it’s great he has his dogs! I hope you get to spend lots of time with your grandson.

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