I, Publius: A touching moment leads to tears
We knew it was coming. Our Sarah and her beloved Dan were going to make us grandparents for the first time. I took Wednesday off because I had gotten really sick from pigging out on food I had no business eating. I had no energy so I decided to take a rare day off, something I do not do very often. We knew that Sarah was due to have her baby on the 25th but on that Wednesday she called to say that she was going into labor.
Thursday morning we got in the car and headed down to the city. Things had progressed and Sarah and Dan were off to Mt. Sinai where they were to have the baby. At 2:35 in the morning, we got a call from Sarah saying that little Noah Élan (half Roselle, half Alan) Blodgett had been born and that she was really exhausted and really hungry. Could we, she asked, bring her and Dan bagel sandwiches from Barney Greengrass on the West Side? Dan wanted white fish on an "everything" bagel and Sarah wanted nova lox with tofu cream cheese.
As I did The Roundtable from 9 to 10, Roselle got the stuff and we tried to get a cab, which was almost impossible. But providence provided -- and after the usual nail-biting ride -- we got across the park and handed over $15 to the driver. We got to the room, hugged the kids and watched them wolf down their food. Little Noah had slight fetal distress, albeit with a perfect Apgar score, so he was in a special neo-natal unit. We would be allowed in one at a time to see him.
I had sworn that no matter what happened, I would not cry. This time, I mean it, I said to myself. This is a baby. I am not the father and Roselle is not the mother. I would not cry. Why should I? Real men do not cry. It’s embarrassing. It’s wrong. I would not cry. Of course, Roselle, Sarah and Dan did not help things along. They all swore that little Noah looked just like me. What a crock, what nonsense, and they said that before I had even seen the little baby.
By that time the tears were already flowing. I bit my lower lip until it almost bled; I forced my thumbnail into my palm. I tried method acting, thinking of other things that would make me a solid citizen. I thought of all the good things that had happened in Sarah’s life -- her success at Monument Mountain, her time at Cornell, her Ph.D. at Princeton and her attaining tenure at the College of New Jersey. I was wearing a Tanglewood hoodie sweatshirt and I kept rubbing the sleeve over my eyes. I was very embarrassed. Roselle, Sarah and Dan must have seen it but they were too kind to let on. So then Sarah took me to see the baby. We got into the room. She said that I had to wash my hands, and she inspected me to make sure that I was thoroughly scrubbed because, she said, "You are going to touch the baby." "No," I protested." "Yes!" she said.
And then there he was, lying on his back making faces and even sneezing once. His little hands and his tiny little toes opened and closed. His belly rose and fell. He was oblivious to us, but Sarah opened the little door to the unit he was in and I touched his thigh. It was, of course, more than I could take. Was it the fact that the family carried on another generation? Was it something as old as Adam and Eve? I really don’t know. The feeling was overpowering. Maybe, just maybe, the Great Spirit was giving me a rare pass for all my transgressions. All I know is that as I am writing this, I am still crying. Sorry about that.
Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast.
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