It’s always something, part one

The early morning birth of my first grandchild, my granddaughter, Madeline Marie Gregory, was a profound experience. For many years I had hoped for a grandchild, a link to the future, a connection to my beloved deceased grandparents, a connection in the deep future, spanning over a century. After that birth I experienced overwhelming feelings of relief that my genetic makeup could survive, relief accompanied by accomplishment and pride… the fulfillment of a wish, a longing that had deep genetic roots, I believe.

As Madeline grew, I also grew and became a loving grandfather, a new role for me. He would embrace her with great pride and a loving hope for her future. I rocked her and sang to her, no known song, just something I made up, a song…possibly unique to her. “Madeline, sweet little Madeline, sweet little Madeline, she’s a bundle of joy, Madeline, sweet little Madeline, everyone loves Madeline, she’s a bundle of joy.” I felt that the simple song would help embody a feeling that she was loved and accepted by all, and that feeling would stay deep in her psyche and build her confidence throughout her life.

Madeline soon revealed that she had her own personality, her unique way of seeing the world. I first noticed it when I was left to care for Madeline while her parents were on a short day trip and my wife, Kathy Marie, was working at the post office. I realized that it was important to change Madeline’s diaper. She hadn’t done that in 25 years and that experience was infamous. I called Kathy and asked her to come over to the house. She told me to change it myself. Damned! I put Madeline on a towel on the floor, opened her diaper, and started gagging, gagging, making strange noises, and more gagging. I didn’t even know Madeline could say more than a word or two, but she looked at me and said condescendingly, “Oooh, Dad!” It was like he was making fun of me for having a weak stomach.

The next funny experience came when we were in a local big box store… I think Madeline was about four years old. My wife, Kathy, and Mary, my mother-in-law, were there. Towards the end of our shopping, we were having a hard time locating Mary. Kathy asked little Madeline to help us find Grandma Mary. Madeline was ready for the hunt. Kathy asked her what she was looking for and Madeline replied quickly and seriously, “White hair and old skin.”

Over the years, Madeline never stopped entertaining us. With her logic and directness, it was as if every statement she made came from her from a perspective we had never considered.

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