Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sweet Caroline

Today I blog about my first grandchild, Caroline. I think back to when I first met her. She was minutes old, coming from the delivery room in her father's arms. She was a little ball of pink, glowing newness. She had just come from her Mother's tummy. That tummy that I used to tickle in a father's generational fashion when she was a wee little tot. I loved Caroline instantly as I had her mother when I first saw her in 1976.

Caroline is one of 7 grandchildren belonging to my wife, Nancy, and I. We love them all proportionately. However, the first grandchild holds an important place in a grandparent's value system. Sort of in the same fashion as Iasaac must have held Joseph within the relevence of time and space. She was such a godsend to us in a time in our lives when we needed some sort of interdiction from on high.

I had just been out-placed from my job and career of thirty years. It was only a job and a means to an end. But it also carried within it security and expression of the well springs of my life enabling me to provide for myself and my family. It was a jolt to my central nervous system and due to the fact that it jolted me it had a similar effect on Nancy and our daughters and son. I had decided to launch a new career in real estate in that year 2002. This was a major paradigm shift for all of us. There was a lot of angst surrounding a learning curve that required class time and testing and ultimately licensure.

On this particular day in August I announced to my new colleagues that I had to leave a meeting that I was in and go to the hospital to become a grandfather. That raised some eyebrows as if I were scheduling cardioversion or some sort of surgical procedure. I explained that my daughter was due to have a caeserian section at 2:00 PM and I would thus become a grandfather. The raised eyebrows transitioned instantly to smiles and laughs and congratulations.

Due to to the fact that our daughter was working and our son in law was in medical school we had the grand opportunity of having Caroline with us over the course of many days and sometimes even nights. She shifted our focus to the new beginnings of a little life surrounding nurturing and innocence. I cannot help but remember the words and lilt of a song that Bobby Goldsboro sang in the 60's. It was Watching Scotty Grow. All that had brought worry and anxiety to our lives dissipated into the day to day practice of watching our little Caroline grow. We doted on her and still do to this day 13+ years later. I cannot help but remember how she used to cry and pitch an unmeasured fit when her parents would come to get her and take her home with them. I smile today at their having to bring her back and let her hug and kiss us one more time. It was not as if they were carrying her off to water board her. It is just the unseen bond that develops between a child and grandparent that borders on euphoria, an unseen state of well being.

Time would pass and Caroline would add two more little sisters to her family. We loved each of them in their own special way. Our love with them is a trivalent bond that cannot be broken. It is soddered by the same mixture of doting attention wrought in a way that only a grandparent can perform. Once when she was little her mother waked her one morning and announced to her that she was going to have a wonderful day and to guess where she was going to go. It was somewhere wonderful. Caroline immediately responded with 'Nana and Pop's house?' She was even somewhat disappointed to learn that she was going to Disney World.

Her father accepted a medical residency in Pensacola. Caroline and her little sister, Kate, would be moving 400 miles in a round trip from us. Caroline and Kate stayed numerous days with us while Mom and Dad arranged the move into a demanding life as a medical resident. We somehow made it through that separation. We did put several thousand miles on a fairly new Mercury Mountaineer over the course of those 4 years.

They also made numerous treks back to our home for holidays and wonderful visits adding a little Georgia Clare to the family as well as a  90 pound American Bulldog, named Sam.

When Caroline was little I used to feed her animal crackers. I would hold one in front of her and ask her the question " Who loves you baby?" She would respond with "Pop" and she would get the cracker. It always disappeared quickly with a smile on both of our faces. Once, years later, during a family dinner she looked at me as she handed me some bread and asked, " Who loves you, baby?" I melted then and I melt now thinking of that and a thousand other little, silly interchanges with our Caroline over her 13 years of life.

The day after Thanksgiving when she was 5'ish. She had come from Pensacola and was sitting on my lap as I played some songs from You Tube. This was a common scene when she came into my office. On this particular day I chose to play her Neal Diamond's, Sweet Caroline . She relished it. Of course I had to embellish the experience a bit and tell her that song was about her. She was captivated by it as we played it over and over. Then she wanted to write a letter to Mr. Diamond and thank him for writing that song about her. I helped her write the letter. We sealed it in an envelope and put it in the mailbox and she went off happily preoccupied with the strains of Sweet Caroline playing in her little memory. It struck me as irony that just at a time on the calendar when other little children were writing to Santa Claus, Caroline was writing to Neal Diamond.

On the occassion of Nancy's 60th birthday. I connived and threw her a surprise birthday party. People came from as far away as Mesa, Arizona and Columbia, South Carolina. Of course, Caroline and her Mom and sisters came from Pensacola to join the surprise. We had hired a DJ to play music. He happened to be one of Caroline's Uncles. One of the songs in his armamentarium was Sweet Caroline. She was 5 at the time and wore a red dress. She managed to coax her Uncle Stace into playing that song over and over. She would happily dance swirling around the dance floor in that pretty little red dress and stole the night.

Someday, I will lay down in a place hopefully not very far from here and graduate from this life. I will replay a lot of scenarios in my mind in the same fashion that Mufasa from the Lion King did partly with his son, Simba, as he made the jump to hyperspace. I will see a little girl in a red dress dancing around a dance floor to the tune of Sweet Caroline. I will inventory my life and count my many blessings. This precious little grandaughter that my daughter and son in law and the God who gave me life sent to me will be present in my inventory of memories. What joy and happiness she has brought to me and so many others. To say I love you Caroline is an inadequate expression of what you have meant to me. May your life be filled with  many happy memories of life similar to what you have brought to me.