The Kids Stay in the Picture

Dear Michael,

That’s you in the photo right there. You might be a month old, maybe two. You’re asleep. You’re in a portable bassinet. You’re floating about five feet in the air. I’m holding the bassinet with both arms. Mom is there, too, leaning toward you. We’re both smiling. We have our own kid, and that kid is you.

I’m bearing you aloft, as if to say, Behold! See what we have wrought! We have created new beauty in the world!

You’re in the next photo, too. You’re cradled in Mom’s arms, once again sleeping. Your face is round, pale, your mouth moist, your nose just a button. Your hands touch each each other. The view is from over Mom’s shoulder. You can see only that her head is turned to look at you, your face barely visible. Her palm is flat on your belly. You’re wearing those soft, fuzzy, eggshell-blue pajamas I always liked. You’re so very asleep, as asleep as only a baby can be, safe in your mother’s arms.

Now comes a treasure of a photo. Here you are with Grandma. Look at the two of you. You’re looking at each other. Of course she’s looking at you. That’s totally to be expected. She’s at our dining room table, wearing a sleeveless white dress with polka dots – red, blue, yellow and green – and her hair is still brown. She’s leaning to her right, her whole torso shifted, with her head turned to the side, positioning herself precisely for a single purpose: to take in the sight of you. She’s holding you gingerly, as if you are a prize, a trophy just bestowed on her. Her right hand cups your little behind, a warm, firm seat, her left arm supporting you from behind. She is in profile, her face cast in shadow, but even from this angle you can make out her smile.

That alone would make this picture special. But now look at you. You’re the other end of this equation (and equation it is, for Nettie equaled Michael – and Michael, Nettie). You’re looking straight at your Grandma, right into her eyes. You’re perched in her arms, in your diaper and bare feet, your skin so pink and pure, and your head is turned to look at her, too. And your mouth is open.

It’s as if you’re saying, Oh.

It’s as if you’re saying, Wow.

Grandma is marveling at you and you’re marveling at her. Some serious mutual marveling is going on here. Maybe here’s where all that started between you two.

It’s all quite . . . marvelous.

P.S. – Part 2 will appear later this week.

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