On October 6, 2010, Tyler Ashton Gibbs was born. My son now has his own son and both he and Tyler’s mother gained a sacred stewardship that will in one way or another, last for lifetimes—whether they like it or not!
I’m not being smug, but it appears the new parents are getting about as much sleep as I did when my son was a wee one. Of my three children, he could be the crankiest—Gibbs’ sons I guess. The crankiness does go away, but in the meantime I felt like I was likely to die from lack of sleep and I sense the same in my son, now a father. The parents are joking around with the dialogue from a sitcom about how many times one can drop off an infant at a fire station and still get back in time to reclaim him. They were thinking six hours for the reclaiming part—six blissful hours of sleep. The number of times they could do it? Hahahaha. Oh wait, I said I wasn’t being smug…
As the grandfather, I am liking the role of remembrances, reminding my son of his baby- and boy-ness, of holding Tyler, and then giving him back to his parents so I can head home to the place my children grew up. It is no longer full with the daily lives of children and parents and pets, but is full with memories and stillness and my own deeply felt appreciation. I wouldn’t trade a moment of either the busy-ness or the stillness.
However, the birth of Tyler has changed the course of things not only for my son, but for me as well. Over the last few years, my responsibilities for family have been lessening. Last June, I lost my last pet, an outdoor cat that somehow had survived around here for seventeen years (well, he had discovered the comforts of the garage at night). Some years back, and about a year apart, my two dogs passed away. I have not had a child at home since 2003. My mother passed away in 2002 (my dad has been gone since 1970). I’ve been divorced now since 1997. It has been interesting to live alone, which is much different then when I lived alone before having a family. But with Tyler, there is newness and promise and the cycle of transitions are accented by the birth and welcoming of a new soul. I have a new role that I’ve not previously had—I am now grandfather as well.
I did not know my grandfathers. But I imagine that I could have learned much. Since I am still here (so far), I hope that I will have enough sense to help Tyler in ways I imagine only a grandfather can do. The father is close to the daily doings of family and that caring and closeness can sometimes obscure a bird’s eye view. The grandfather benefits by both caring and distance.
And then there is that maleness thing—unique in its own way in seeing and being in the world. Sons need fathers—and grandfathers. Heck, they need great grandfathers if they are about. The male journey, like the female journey, is a unique challenge. It requires a lot of perspective to help appropriately sharpen and soften the edges of gender living.
Tyler’s arrival is a new journey and I am glad—very glad. I welcome him and I will do my part and I will do so with maleness as I know it, including lots of listening and lots of love.