"Ed is born."
Those three words over the phone during breakfast launched my summer. My son-in-law went on to describe my daughter's serious entry into labor the night before. She birthed their baby boy (Tim's and my first grandchild) before either parent had time to think about letting people know.
So began adjustments, transitions. I wouldn't hold my firstborn's hand during her labor the way my mom held mine (we also wouldn't test the strong possibility of my passing out at some point -- all to the good). There would be no marathon wait for extended family, no bets placed on the time of dear little Edmund's appearing. He had altogether already arrived, strong and healthy.
Before I hung up and grabbed my car keys, my son-in-law mentioned one other thing. "Edmund has lots of hair, and it's white."
Our daughter had delicate, strawberry-blonde locks at birth. Her husband is of Italian heritage with abundant hair, nearly black. So Edmund seemed to have inherited the amount from his dad and the color from his mom. His shining full mane drew immediate remarks from the hospital staff; they never see that much hair that color on a newborn.
Soon after everyone's euphoric first hours meeting Edmund, my son-in-law spoke what had been an idea flitting on my mind's periphery. He told me the pediatrician suggested they get Edmund genetically tested. Our tiny new person was most probably albino.
For about a day this news made me upset. How dare anyone infer anything having to do with mutation regarding Edmund? I didn't want reality handing me a cold message on a petri dish, sentencing my loved one to labels, to being misunderstood. No matter how silly I knew those feelings were -- Edmund doing well in other respects and the variations of genetics and individuals being everywhere what they are -- I felt them. I moped. Then I began the slow turn toward this news, this particular about my grandchild, this education.
How interesting the way things surprise. The full-laden message, "We're pregnant". Months later the question, "Do you want to know the gender?" with its companion, "A boy", causing me to recall I had dreamed only a night or two beforehand my daughter saying those words to me, though I didn't believe them then.
The recent day we traveled together to the children's hospital in Portland for Edmund's testing, she told me something so like her, so delightful in the moment though I'd never have guessed: the only thing she worried during her pregnancy was that her child might be normal.
This is our heritage to some degree, be it genetics or otherwise, and I embrace it as I did precious Edmund, beginning to smile, the dozen days he and his mommy stayed at our house while my son-in-law drove a van and trailer to New York for fall term at seminary. I also release it, wishing to share, with gladness amid tears as now my daughter and Edmund have flown that direction as well. May I one day be fully done with moping.