Just like Billy Pilgrim, I've become unstuck in time. Not that the time traveling protagonist of the Kurt Vonnegut work, Slaughterhouse Five, taught me or anything. It just seems to have happened. Here one moment, some time another, and all because of my grandson's birth.
Eldest daughter, Kara, had her first child in January. She texted me during the event . . . contractions at five minutes, Dad . . . . in the car, on the way . . . going in now, Dad. Wonderful inventions, these voice-not-necessary telephonic devices.
The year of her birth, 1976, was the first year fathers were allowed in delivery rooms at the local hospital. We had taken the required course, and had the certificate to prove satisfactory attendance. A stool was placed by Mom's head, and instructions were given to remain there unless one began feeling faint or nauseous. A large mirror had been suspended from the ceiling behind the doctor's work area at such an angle that the view was unobstructed.
Each of the subsequent births of our daughters saw a relaxing of the rules to the point where I was handed the scissors to cut Kelly's umbilical cord to welcome her, and for Kori, well . . . the doctor permitted me to perform his role while he stood behind me and whispered instructions into my ear.
The births of new family members, then, was old hat by the time my grandson came along. I remember the Saturday spilling over to Sunday for our first; the Monday evening becoming the Tuesday morning for number two; and Sunday watching the sun go down and a steak dinner before number three showed her face.
And speaking of faces, Kara, our new Mom, had mine. The photo album has straight on and profile pics of her as an infant and toddler that are indistinguishable in visage from 59 year old photos of me in my own mother's collection. The resemblance is both eerie and wondrous.
On a recent visit to my mother's house, my daughter asked to see those old photos of me from the early 1950s. She'd brought pictures of her Lincoln, my grandson, with her, along with pictures of herself at that age. When she laid them out on the coffee table to examine, she found that but for the dog ears on the older versions, the faces were the spitting image of each other - - me, to her, to him.
My mother told me after that visit (as she, too, became unstuck in time) that holding Lincoln felt to her just like holding me, even though the events were sixty years apart. As it is, I can remember with some clarity the taking of the picture in question. I was sitting on the front step of my maternal grandparents' house, it was winter, and I had on a warm coat against the cold.
In my first serious conversation with my grandson, and wanting to make a good impression and get his life started off well, I told him of the first Boston Red Sox game I ever went to, and the cathedral that is Fenway Park. The year was 1959 . . . the smells of Landsdowne Street and the seats inside the park . . . the taste of that first hot dog . . players of every position that game . . Ted Williams . . Jackie Jensen hit a home run. It's never too soon to begin a young man's education of all things Red Sox.
I was a Vonnegut fan in college, and read everything he wrote. The fantasy of Billy Pilgrim was fun, although at that time it was the political and social message of the book, and the horrors of the war, that struck me more than the notion of time travel.
It's different now. It's not fantasy. I have, in fact, become unstuck in time. I am sitting on those front steps at Grandpa and Grandma's house; it's cold and I have my winter coat on while the picture is being taken. I'm at the hospital now, watching my first daughter take her first breath, and holding her while she lets out her first cries. I'm walking across the room, grandson in my arms, and talking baseball.
In a split second, I can be in the years 1954, 1959, 1976 and 2009. Eyes open or closed, no matter. In those magical moments, I see the lines of family extending out and life finding ways. He's the first, only four months old. He hasn't said a word to me yet, and still I have already learned so much from him, not the least of which is how to become unstuck in time.