It’s much like having another child of my own. Of course, I could never claim to feel my daughter’s pain any more than I could feel my wife’s when my daughter was born. Still I was allowed, at the last minute, to be in the delivery room for my grandson’s birth. A privilege I didn’t expect. Up to the moment of delivery, my daughter Andrea had quite enough support with my son-and-law Zeke and my wife Debra by her side—not to mention the doctor and the multitude of nurses in the room.

But I was the one with the camera. I had to draw on my experience as a television news cameraman to keep my emotions in check while I repeatedly snapped pictures of my grandson’s birth. The same sort training I drew upon when I photographed the birth of his mother 22 years ago. As my grandson was born, his father and grandmother were totally engrossed in his mother’s comfort and his safe arrival. The doctor turned to me and said, “Hey grandpa, look at this.” Grandpa?? I’m barely old enough to have a child, I thought, much less a grandchild. The doctor held up the umbilical cord, which revealed a loop that could have become a knot. But by the grace of God—the loop never tightened. And Westley James announced his arrival as healthy babies normally do.

The nurses told me my daughter had handled the delivery of her baby boy as well as any mother could.  Within seconds of his birth—a nurse handed him to his mother, who—with some tears of joy—held him for the first time. Then she handed baby West to his father. Soon both of the new parents—obviously relieved and overjoyed—were hugging each other and cradling baby West. Then West was handed to Debra, who, even though she’s now a grandmother, looks as young as she did when Andrea was a baby. Debra has always had a bond with young children and her face has a special look of contentment whenever she’s holding one. She has taught almost every child at our church in Bible school, and when there’s a baby in the room, it’s as if Debra becomes the mother.

Finally—it was my time to hold baby West. I’d not held such a young baby since this one’s mother was born 22 years earlier. As he was handed to me—I put my hand under his head to support it. For a moment, he looked at me, then closed his eyes and began bawling, as he initiated his first wet diaper. So I handed him back to the nurse. It was just like holding Andrea or her brother or her sister when they were that little. Every time Westley burps, spits up on my shoulder, cries, or just lies on his back looking at me and smiling, it reminds of when his mother, his aunt, or his uncle would burp, spit up on my shoulder, cry, or just lie on their backs smiling at me.

The parents of my son-in-law, Zeke, soon joined us in the delivery room. All the grandparents surrounded Andrea, Zeke, and baby West.  We all joined hands. Zeke’s father led us as we prayed for the new family member.

Babies seem to know who’s a part of their family. At the family Christmas gatherings, Westley represented the fourth generation. And—as much as newborn can—he accommodated all the aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles, and great grandparents who took turns holding him.

Since Andrea and Zeke live close to us, Debra and I are privileged to spend quite a bit of time with our grandson. We also have two cats and we make them stay outside because they behave like animals. Westley is special. He’s allowed to stay inside even although he behaves like a child. In just a few years, he’ll be big enough to handle the cats that have shown some curiosity about his being the new guest in the house.

He is his parents’ to raise. And we believe they will follow the advice of Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” As grandparents, we’ll help whenever we can, and we’ll probably spoil him more than we should. Other than that, it’s just as if we’re having another child of our own.

I’m Rob Scobey. Write to me at KNLS, Anchor Point, Alaska, USA.

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