A little over 4½ years ago my stepdaughter, Layla, asked me if I would prefer to be called Grandpa or Grandad.
I was 37.
There are times when it’s felt like the fates are reminding me of my mortality (see Grandad’s Muesli), however I’ve been steadily coming to terms with it.
A little over 3 years ago my granddaughter gained a baby brother, thereby sealing my position in an elder generation. No longer could I just pretend it was some kind of anomaly, I was going to have to properly embrace this idea.
It’s certainly helped that cards to Grandad on Father’s day have been known to bring a tear to my eye. And when we go to visit, having grandchildren fling their arms around you and cover you in snot is quite endearing, especially when you aren’t the one responsible for cleaning them up.
And now, sometime around the beginning of December, a new individual will be joining the clan; Layla is with child again.
Now I know to everyone else this is just a series of dots that resemble a Rorschach Inkblot Test than a grandchild, but to me it is something truly magical.
The swollen belly, the life within; it is a thing of pure beauty and taps into something deeply primal.
I am not a religious man: I have no belief in god(s) creating the universe and responding to prayers. But I have never understood why a Supreme Being in any religion could possibly be represented as male. The only reason I have ever been able to come up with is it must have given a bunch of disgruntled blokes something to feel important about.
But then I’ve never really understood men (or women) who abandon responsibility for their children, nor abortion except for the most extreme circumstances, either.
Tell a lie, I do understand why these things happen, but to me it’s infinitely sad that one of the most precious, miraculous things in the universe can be rejected.
Perhaps it’s because my mother told me the doctor recommended she should have aborted my younger sister; perhaps it’s because the majority of people and the medical establishment expected we should have aborted my daughter; perhaps as I get older, and my own sense of mortality grows, these feelings just embed themselves far more deeply.
Whichever, while I have to respect the right of a woman to choose, I so deeply wish more education and support for the choice to keep life was more prevalent.
When we have truly seen, felt and experienced the incredibleness of new life, we know it should never be taken away unless the alternatives are really too awful to contemplate.
However, this is a time when that debate is unnecessary. In a few months time I’m going to be a grandfather to a child who is already loved.
I just hope Layla’s going to be able to keep her cravings for sandstone at bay this time.