Monday, July 7, 2008

happy birth day?

since this is going to serve as my place for all things daddy-related(and maybe a few things not), i thought it would be cool to start it up on our due date, whether we had something or not. i'll do my best to pervert the art of parenting as you know it. and i'll be keeping it light- no need to get all heavy with this since the key to successful parenting lies in being as childlike yourself as possible(i think). it also helps when at least one parent will actually read food labels, parenting books, message boards, medical journals, etc. and apply that wealth of knowledge to actively parenting(that would be my wife). me? i'm here for the toys.

that said, the first entry i wanted to make is a little more serious than all that. consider yourselves warned...


so... today was the projected due date for the birth of our baby, and has now all but passed with no movement whatsoever on the birthfront. first babies are late, on average, by eight days, so we could be looking at one more week at least. and while i would have loved to have our baby be born sooner rather than later, i'm not so broken up about missing our due date, as it was also the day my maternal grandfather died, just one year ago.

grandpa ferreira, as i knew him, was antone "anthony" ferreira. he was ninety-five at the time of his death and remained himself in all capacities up until the end. it's hard enough to watch someone you love wither and wilt, becoming a shade of their former selves, and ultimately becoming someone else entirely as they fade from the person they were. but i would argue it's just as difficult to see someone at ninety-five recall vivid memories from when he was four years old- someone who is the same person in their bed at the nursing home that they were to you when you yourself were four years old, someone who was not out of their mind, who knew you still, loved you still, and had stories left to tell.

his wife mary had died the previous year and they had been married for over seventy years. without my grandmother he was lonely and lost. he had readied himself for his own death, and with a late history of small heart attacks and other complications he was fully prepared to go first. she died suddenly in her sleep early in the summer of 2006 and my grandfather was fully unprepared. the idea of having to live on without her was something he had not anticipated. throughout the following year he made it clear to all of us that he was happy to have lived the life he had, and was ready to go.

the last time i saw him, he was in a rehab center in canton, mass. he had fallen a few weeks earlier and was "building his strength back up" at rehab. he got sox games on the tv and complained that the old guy in the bed next to him was deaf and shouted constantly. the old guy, it turned out, was twenty some-odd years his junior.

i don't know what the percentage of recovery is at these rehab centers, but that year i watched two grandparents go into them, and not come out. technically, my wife's paternal grandfather didn't die in his rehab center, but he sure as hell wasn't building his strength back up while he was there. i would say i have a poor opinion of nursing homes in general, and through my job i've seen plenty of elderly folks go into these places and deteriorate quicker than you can say kevorkian. and my grandfather had lost his will to live before going in...

comparing tattoos @ rehab

but that's not to say he was morose or suicidal, he was just done. he kept saying that people shouldn't live to be as old as he was. he was happy with what he had, and his most treasured possession was us, his family, gathered around him. he told stories, made us all laugh, and kept things positive and light-hearted. and while some of us wanted to hope that he was rallying, we knew that what he was really doing was saying goodbye.

that last day with him in june of 2006 is when i fully committed to the idea of having a baby. seeing not one, not two, but potentially three generations of family in that room(with even more not represented), and being able to look around and trace us all back to him, the one living current that passed through each of us... i understood. i just got it, what family is about, and the importance of each person's contribution to the greater whole. i love my family, and i can't wait to make that contribution myself.

well, maybe just one more day.

Antone Ferreira
June 21, 1912- July 07, 2007