It’s just that this one seems like I’ve had opportunity to hold more than any of the others.
At four months now since she’s been born, she’ll want to go to the mailbox with me. At least I think she does. Or anywhere else for that matter.
I’ll do anything to get her to smile which anymore is nearly constant. But it’s never, ever, like the smile she gives her mom, our daughter. Every time the two look into the other’s eyes her little face just totally lights up in recognition, eyes crinkling at the corners.
They even talk to each other in a language all their own. Sometimes she’ll giggle.
I’m sure I’ve heard her say “Grandpa” or something very close. At least that’s what I tell all the total strangers, all with sprinkles of grey in their hair like mine, grandmothers of my age who are drawn like a magnet to this beautiful baby.
The hardware store, the bookstore, the grocery store, they stop us, wanting to see this little one.
Clerks have offered to hold her while I shop with my wife. “That cute little baby’s back!” one will announce to another at one of our more frequent haunts.
We play a little game in our family that if she makes the slightest peep, you’ve got to give her up as it’s another family member’s turn to hold her.
And if it’s my turn, and I’m always hoping it’s my turn, that I hear that little peep first, there’s just something very special that happens.
It’s the same thing that happens when on rare occasion she cries which I hate to hear her do. So, I’ll swoop her up from her swinging cradle, hold her close, say “It’s ok, it’s grandpa” and instantly she’s quiet. Grandpa has her.
It’s magical, a very, very special moment.
There, in my arms, she’ll tuck her head under my chin after first smiling and stretching her entire length as if by doing so she’ll make herself instantly grow taller, then she’ll lay her chubby little arms out and up on my chest, and we’ll go for a walk.
Sometimes her fuzzy bit of hair and just her very dark eyes will peer over the top of my shoulder as we go to get the mail; or to search for my favorite author; or be stopped by some total stranger like the guy whose accent identified him as possibly Yugoslavian.
“Why do grandpas love their granddaughters so much?” he asked, no doubt rhetorically, as he peered over the top of his spectacles.
Happy our relationship was so obvious, I was about to answer his question there in the plumbing section as I compared prices for bath fixtures, but a couple passing by – also unknown to me – overheard the question and answered:
“Because that’s what grandpas do.”
Just sitting here thinking and writing well in advance of Father’s Day before I refill my favorite coffee cup.