Monday, June 22, 2015

Parenthood: Week 106 – The Moment I Realized I Was A Father

This story of fatherhood is set in Taiwan during my maternal grandmother’s funeral. Click here for my travelogue about this experience. 

Looking out the floor to ceiling windows of our hotel room, I gazed upon the view of downtown Taipei. Stretched out before was a sea of modern progress.  The Taipei 101 building was in clear sight and cranes all around raised buildings towards the sky.

Even though I was exhausted, I woke up before my alarm. I was still jet-lagged and not yet recovered from the over 15-hour journey from Chicago to Taipei.  It was only our second day in Taiwan. However even if we had been there for a week, I still probably wouldn’t have sleep very well, because today was the day that my family was going to bury my Po-po (maternal grandmother).

Diana was still asleep and it was too early to go down for breakfast so I sat on the couch looking out the window.  I felt lost.  I had too much time on my hands and I didn't know what I needed to do to prepare for the day emotionally.

I eventually made my way to the bathroom and went through my morning routine. Actions that were so normal, like brushing my teeth and shaving, almost felt wrong knowing the nature of the coming day. I comforted myself knowing that I wasn’t alone. Diana was here.

From the moment we heard the news that my Po-po was dying, she supported me. She helped plan this stressful trip. And when we bought me a suit that we thought I might need for the funeral, she insisted that the alterations be done quickly so that we could have it ready for the trip.  She stood up for me when I didn’t have it in me to stand up for myself.

Because of Diana I had made it this far, so I knew I’d be okay.

As I left the bathroom, Diana was sitting up in bed. She got up and put on her glasses. Diana hates wearing her glasses and only wears them in the transition before going to bed and getting up in the morning.  But I kind of think she looks cute in them. As she slipped them on and gave me a hug, I felt the optimism and kind spirit in her embrace I saw in her eyes ten years earlier when we first met.

She went into the bathroom to get ready for the day. Instead of changing out of my pajamas, I found myself sitting in the same couch looking out of the window watching the sunrise over the mountains.

A couple minutes later, I heard the bathroom door open and felt Diana's presence coming closer. I turned to face her and she told me with her love and excitement in her eyes that we were going to have a baby. We immediately embraced, I told her that I loved her and she told me that she loved me. I continued to hug her as we sat down.

I don’t know what’s the happiest moment of my life. The many different joyful moments, I’ve been blessed to experience have held different meanings in my life. So it’s difficult to compare, but I will say that finding out this news of the baby that would grow into Ollie is one of the happiest. I didn’t quite have words at that moment (which is a big deal for me). In that silence as we held each other, the sun finally reached it’s apex high up in the sky and everything in my life came into perspective.

On this day, I would say goodbye to my Po-po, and Diana and I would welcome this child into our hearts. These two moments, the beginning of life and the end of life, frame our lives and give our actions, our thoughts and our feelings meaning.

After a long joyful silence, we stood up, talked briefly, agreeing not to tell anyone our news and got ready for the day. We didn’t speak of our child during the long busy day. Our focus was on my family and my Po-po. However, I couldn’t help but hold Diana’s hand a little bit tighter when helping her off the bus and check in often with her making sure she was comfortable. As much as I felt I wanted to be there for her, Diana as always was the rock I needed for myself and for our child.

Ollie will never meet his paternal great-grandparents, but I feel blessed that he was with us to share in that trip to Taiwan to say goodbye to his great-Po-po. When I look at Ollie, sometimes I think about my Po-po and instead of feeling sad, I feel happy knowing that he shared this experience with us.

I'm excited for the day that I will tell Ollie about his trip to Taiwan.  I’ll tell him about the long flight, and the weird toilet with over twenty buttons.  But most importantly, I will tell him about the love that my family shares because of my Po-po, which led his life and joy we share with each other every single day of our lives.

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