I have a new outlook on life; it can be weighed at 2.5 pounds. I am the proud grandparent of baby Roland. Roland came into this world 8 weeks before he was expected. He was premature and as all premature deliveries go, his was fairly uncomplicated. He has a full head of hair, and his journey began, as his dad says, “kicking and screaming.” Although mom and dad are now comfortably resting at home, they are anticipating their daily visits to the hospital to visit Roland. Because Roland was 8 weeks premature, he has tubes connected to him, he has had to have a ultra-violet lamp bake his skin to aid in recovering from jaundice, which is normal in premature babies, and he has needed a machine to breathe for him, but daily they are slowly weaning him from the breathing machine.
It is great to be involved in the health and growth of Roland. What really stinks is I am unable to see him. I live 400 miles from my daughter. Recently, I had surgery and I am in the recovery stage. I dread the idea of flying and my doctor would most likely not approve. I plan to drive from Illinois to Minnesota in a few weeks, I would much rather drive. I am okay with it. I feel so good about my son-in-law and I am so confident and convinced about his love for my daughter and his son, I sleep well at night knowing his love embraces them.
I have other grandchildren, one biological grandchild, and three by marriage. I love them all dearly. The bond I feel for each is different, strong and loving, but very different, as they each have personalities unique to them.
Roland and I will share a unique bond too. I have a very exceptional and rare bond with his mother, my daughter Samantha. Samantha is not my biological daughter. Samantha came into my life when she was 2 ½ years old, which was twenty-five years ago.
Samantha’s parents divorced and her father moved on. With his new family in the picture, Samantha slowly faded out of the picture. Samantha’s mother, who she has always maintained a close relationship with, dealt with some difficult life issues and Samantha and I became close while her mother and I were in a relationship, which ended within a few years after it began.
When Samantha began showing signs of our failed relationship interfering with her academics and her life, her mother and I decided it best, for Samantha’s sake and ours, we would have a shared-custody relationship, even though we had never married. That turned out to be the smartest, least self-centered act; two young out-of-sorts dysfunctional disconnected people had ever decided to agree on.
On many occasions, Samantha and I have discussed how people do not understand our relationship. She’ll remark, “My friends just don’t get it. When I call you dad and then explain that you aren’t really my dad, but you are my dad, they want to know if I am adopted. I laugh and say no, and then I tell them you raised me and that confuses them more. They want to know Why?”
Why? That is the billion-dollar question. What makes a man, who has own children, decide to raise another man’s child? I’m not sure I could answer that without an entire volume devoted to a father’s love for his child. The short answer, because that is the way Samantha and I connected!
The day I met Samantha she was a baby – 2 ½ years-old. Samantha’s mother was going through a challenging time. I was asked to babysit and I did. Samantha was in a dirty diaper and had no other clothes. Her mother did not have her father to rely on and she was without money. I scooped up Samantha; we headed to the local department store. We loaded the shopping cart with the largest bag of disposable diapers we could find, several cute little outfits, and as many toys we could squeeze between the diapers, the cart and what Samantha could carry.
After changing Samantha into the outfit of her choosing, for the next several hours we played with every toy she bought. I was in my galore, Samantha was tickled-pink. At the time, I was estranged from my biological children because of a bitter divorce, and Samantha was detached from her parents. It was as though we were destined to be in one another’s lives.
Over the years, we have experienced the “normal” father-daughter issues, and likewise we have had great father-daughter times. One of our favorite times, and we have had many, is when we were camping by our favorite lake. We woke just before sunrise and headed down to the pier. We watched the sunrise as we were fishing. Laughing and talking, joking with one another. For breakfast, we shared grape soda and we ate a whole bag of marshmallows. Awesome times!
My bond with Samantha is indestructible and everlasting, the way a bond with your child should be. We have had our differences and we accept each other’s idiosyncrasies and singularity. The 400 miles separating us has never changed our feelings for each other, only that we miss one another more.
I am looking forward to the same bond with Roland. When I was born I did not enter this world premature, but my mother tells stories of how I almost died. It was in the 50’s and back then, the medical field was not as advanced as it is now. When I was born, my mother says, “We had to find someone to baptize you the day you were born so you could go right into surgery.” It turned out I was born with a double strangulating hernia. My mother was frightened because many babies back then died from my birth disorder.
I feel even though it is not the same medical complication, and babies today are at a greater advantage than in the 50’s, I already have a connection to Roland – we each had our complications when we arrived and like Roland’s dad, Issac, so proudly exclaimed, my mother also says, I came into this world kicking and screaming.
A few weeks from now, I will make my way to the hospital. I will embrace my daughter and my son-in-law with gigantic hugs and sweet kisses of love. I shall approach the Intensive Care Unit where doctors and nurses care for Roland and most surely… I will cry like a baby. Things that once mattered in life, the small mundane things, matter less now. What matters most in life are the people who add to life the essence of life, people like Samantha, Isaac, and baby Roland!
I am Dane Allen, and this has been… A View From My Loft!