Friday, August 16, 2013

Parenthood: Week 12 – Elderly Nuns & Ollie

Me: Uh . . . mom, whose baby are you holding?
My mom: [smiling] I don't know!
At almost ever major family occasion, wedding, funeral, baby shower, my mom always seems to end up with a baby in her arms.  And sometimes she doesn't she can't even identify who the baby belongs to.  She's been doing this ever since I can remember.  My mom really likes holding babies and so do I.

I still remember the first time that I held a baby.  It was jarring, a little uncomfortable but also really special at the same time, but nothing is like holding a baby.  Everyone's yearly bucket list should have "hold a baby" on it.

As much as I value the experience of holding a baby, I don't want everyone and their mom to hold Ollie.  So I’ve made a rule that unless this is a person that Ollie would choose to hug later in life, I will not let that person hold Ollie.

Today, I broke that rule.

When my wife was a kid, there were two nuns who lived in the neighborhood who babysat Diana and her two brothers. They watched Diana and her brothers grow up and formed a bond with the entire family. These nuns have continued to be a part of Diana’s family like when they said grace during our wedding.

One of the nuns met us for lunch and then we went to a nursing home to visit the other nun. Was I okay with them holding Ollie? Initially I was a little apprehensive. But I decided to make an exception.

The average age of these nuns was 90 years old. Ollie may not have a connection to them , but they have a connection to my wife and her family and that felt like enough.

Ollie has an amazing effect on people. I witnessed tears well up in family members' eyes when they first held Ollie. That made sense to me and seemed natural. But watching people like these nuns hold Ollie who aren’t as closely connected was just as amazing in a different way.

Babies do something amazing to elderly people. I don’t quite get it and I don’t know what it is. I saw so much more than that in the faces of these nuns when they held Ollie. Yes, it was because they remembered Diana as a child, but I think even if Ollie had no personal connection, there would still be a powerful effect.

As we were leaving they thanked us over and over for bringing Ollie. I’m glad we did. I get nervous that elderly people will drop Ollie or that by visiting a place like a nursing home, he will get sick, but my fears were put aside today as I watched Ollie interact with these two remarkable woman.

One day, a long time down the road when Ollie is having a George Bailey moment and he thinks that he’s not important and that he doesn’t matter, I’ll tell him the story about how he lifted the spirits of two elderly nuns and made their world a little brighter. I’ll tell him how simply his presence and his spirit at such a young age touched people and changed their lives. And I’ll tell him that that same spirit is still strong within him and he makes the world a better place by being himself.

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