Today marks a first here at My Boy Max. We've ventured into "guest post" territory, and I'm down right excited about it. This inaugural post is brought to us by none other than my very own dad--a.k.a "Pop" to me and "Papa" to the kiddos. I started bugging him a few months back but as life is wont to do, it got in the way. Then a few days ago this little gem showed up in my inbox. Enjoy!
|Max with Papa, August 25, 2012|
I love being a grandfather! OK----I’m not crazy about being old, but being a grandparent is a nice offset to creaking joints, age spots, and ear hair. My move from carefree middle age to grandparent happened 9 years ago when our oldest son Andy and our daughter-in-law Nicole presented us with AJ. At the time, my wife Barb being the practical, organized, plan-a-header that she is asked, “so, what do you want to be called?” Sensing a trap I replied, “Well, King of The World would be nice.” “No no”, she said. ”What do you want your grandchildren to call you? You can be Grandpa, Grampy, or Papa.”
Hmmm, I had to think about that. I decided it was a good idea to choose a name ahead of time, otherwise I might wind up being called Bumpa, Uncle Green, or, gulp, Old Man. Grandpa was too ordinary, Grampy sounded too much like Grumpy but Papa was just right. The more I thought about it the more I liked it. In my romantic musings I would become like Papa Hemingway, patriarch of a vast brood that doted on me in my declining years, which, by the way, have already started.
Soon, Nicolas came along and AJ had a little brother. Now we could have week-end sleepovers, forbidden trips to the ice cream shop, and non-stop play days, no chores allowed. And the best part, after I had completely destroyed all of the good habits my kids were trying to instill it was time to take the grandkids home.
And so it was with a sense of joy, pride and eager anticipation that we accepted the news that Amy and Sean were going to have a baby. But then, the dreadful news, something was wrong. There was an abnormality. The baby was not going to be “normal”. The sentence was Down Syndrome. I was devastated at first, but not for me, I was just a grandparent. I was heartsick for Amy and Sean. What did this mean for them? What sacrifices would they have to make, what hardships would they have to endure, and what would it mean for a child in this condition?
After a very bittersweet pregnancy Maximus Alexander Lanagan came into this world and everything changed. No longer was Down Syndrome a stigma, no longer was his disability a sacrifice. His presence in our lives immediately changed our perspective forever. He was a blessing. Max became our very own “Profile in Courage”. At 4 months he had to endure major heart surgery. I’ll never forget visiting the intensive care unit. It looked like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise; video screens and monitors covering an entire wall beeping and flashing. Nestled in the middle of it all in a tiny basket was my courageous little Max with a scar from breast bone to navel but still fighting. Soon after, he was fitted with glasses because of his poor eyesight. He took it all in stride, wears them when he wants to watch Mikey and throws them away when he gets tired of them.
Amy said “I can’t wait till he walks.” I said, “Be careful what you wish for honey.” He’s not walking now, he’s running. One of my favorite times is knocking on the door at Amy and Sean’s and waiting for Max to open it. His pure unadulterated joy at seeing me just melts my heart. Max can say my name using sign language now and he’s starting to make some sounds that could be words. Maybe his first word will be Papa!