September 8th, 2010, 8:30 AM, a sunny late summer day, a good day to be born. The Yanks are playing an early one this afternoon. Have to see what I can do about letting the babies hear the broadcast of the game, get them used to it. Off to Staten Island, where my grandsons are in the process of being born.
9:10 AM, traffic was a breeze, arrive at Richmond University Hospital maternity ward where, after a minimal amount of hospital confusion, set eyes on John Michael Crespo and Christopher Michael Crespo, less than one hour old and on display in the nursery window, both perfect and beautiful.
I am theirs completely in about half a second. John’s got dark hair, Christopher’s is blond, and they wailed long and loud for good while, probably wondering exactly what the heck just happened to them.
Big boys, 7 pounds, 3 ounces and 20-1/2 inches for John, 6-14 and 20″ for Christopher. Good lusty lungs, natural born singers. John’s face is a little rounder, Chris’ longer, his eyes different somehow. I’m already calling him Chris. I can see very different personalities already.
All of a sudden their father, my son Mike, was by my side, having been with his wife Maria in the recovery room. My bear of a son gave me a huge bear hug and that wicked smile he’s had since his first hour on earth in one these rooms, what seems like only yesterday instead of 36 years ago.
Maria needed attention and Mike had to fill out some more forms, unload her stuff from the car and get her situated, so it was up to me to man the nursery window and admire the Crespo twins. I managed.
Others would come soon, a ton of family and friends, delirious for Mike and Maria, wild for the babies, just as it should be. But this was my time with the boys, 51 minutes old, only the nurses and me in the place. And my twin grandsons. Wow and a half.
Even a windy Brooklyn lifer like me has no words for such feelings (But you know damned well I’m gonna try!). Love, joy, awe, wonder, gratitude, humility, continuity, life with a capital L, all these things are way too tame to describe the eruption, the geyser of emotion that is torn, no, shredded from your body, your whole body, not just your mind and heart.
It’s a physical, tangible sensation, as real as being hot or dizzy or afraid, but it’s a wonderful feeling, filling you with a power that seems to come from the universe itself, channeled through a tiny baby, and nothing at all is impossible. Times like this, you wonder what’s the deal with atheists. How blind can you be?
This is something completely out of everyday reality, above and apart from anything else that ever happened and everything you ever felt. It is magic and special, yet crystal clear and as real as that tiny fist with the vise grip on your pinkie, and that’s about all I can say about it. Pretty darned majestic.
I watched the maternity nurses tend to them, taking their temperature, feeding them a bottle of 5% sugar water, burping them, pricking their tiny heels for a drop of blood that was immediately tested for something or other. Touching them, reassuring them, these women were amazing; graceful, confident and tender. You know the kids are in good hands for their first couple of hours on earth.
Two nurses grabbed a twin apiece and gave them their first bath, washing them them carefully and expertly, even combing their wispy hair after dressing them in their first clothes. Then they put them back in the window for Grandpa to admire some more. Coupla handsome Dans, maybe a little too good-looking. Not fair to the other kids, but that’s how it goes.
All that fuss tuckered them out, and so they napped in their little glass cubicles, getting ready to be wheeled in to see their mother. Mike and I went to a late breakfast while Maria and the boys slept and then around noon I went up to Maria’s room when two nurses wheeled in John and Christopher.
I waited my turn after Mom and Dad and got to hold both my sweet grandboys, and they were as comfortable in my arms as their own father and his brother once were. I introduced myself in a dopey Grandpa voice that came out of nowhere. Weird. I told them how special and blessed they both are, how very much their Grandpa loves them and what a wonderful, perfect world they are joining.
Okay, so I lied about the wonderful perfect world part, but 3 hours old didn’t seem like a good time to burst their bubble. Besides, them being in it already makes the world a much better place. I’ll have to see what I can do about all the unpleasantness before they grow up.
Who can say that they won’t be the ones to help build a better world? One of them will do it while playing centerfield for the New York Yankees, while the other one will have to settle for being president. So far they give no indication of who will will do what, no doubt taking the lay of the land before committing. Smart boys.
I got a little smile out of both of them, a smile I suspect they’ll keep forever, just like their father. Then it was time for Mom and Dad to be alone with their new babies and I took my leave, but I’ll be back. John and Chris are going to see plenty of Grandpa, that’s for sure. They’re Brooklyn people too, sensible boys that they are. Lucky me. Lucky, lucky, lucky me!