Feels as if I’ve been mad for quite a while now. If I haven’t been downright angry, I’ve definitely felt completely frustrated.
My favorite way of venting is with writing. I keep most of my thoughts (especially the negative ones) to myself, knowing I always feel stupid for expressing aloud any aggravation I’m feeling at the time. I can mope with the best of ’em. Instead of yelling how I really feel, I’ll pound the keys on my keyboard as if I’m actually knocking some sense into someone. For sheer therapy, I might write a fictional paragraph in which my answer to every problem is a giant meteor, or maybe a magic wand used for turning bad people into bugs I can stomp.
This week’s column was gonna be another rant borne of my overall exasperation with pretty much the whole world. We’re not getting any smarter with the pandemic, we’re hating and bashing each other all the way across every aisle imaginable — and I’m just plain tired of letting it get to me.
I was maybe halfway through this week’s work — my keyboard was screaming in pain — when my family and I received a major ray of sunshine.
A new baby girl. Our next grandchild. Little Ella Ruth Watkins arrived on Wednesday afternoon — just a few hours before I was due to submit my gripe-a-thon of a weekly column. Ella got here healthy, beautiful and loved. Really, really loved. Big sister Laine, who’s almost three years old now, can’t wait to meet her new forever playmate and best friend. Mom Erika’s doing great, and dad Lucas is strutting his “Luckiest Guy in the World” stuff. (He hasn’t realized how expensive girls get later, but hey, I’m not gonna ruin this for him. Yet.)
Grandparents Pop and Lolli were there for the big day. The rest of the family (all the aunts, uncles and other grandparents) went on an all-day texting binge in anticipation of the big news. We guys heard way too much about “dilating” and “broken water” and other stuff we have no desire to hear or learn. Don’t tell us the gross parts. Just show us some baby pics.
I happened to be in the middle of some interviews with breast cancer survivors when I got my first notification that Ella had indeed joined our family. Hearing stories of heartache wasn’t going to give me much of a lift, and I’m sure my column would have reflected some of the pain I heard from those wonderful ladies who’d survived their experience. The interviews are for some stories I’m writing for later.
Here came the “ding, ding, dings” on my phone. The child’s arrival wasn’t unexpected. It’s not like Erika just decided to pop out a surprise baby. In fact, we got the call late Tuesday night letting us know Mom was on her way to the drop zone.
I knew the little girl was on her way. I just wasn’t expecting her to make me feel the way she did.
Those pics started pinging on my phone right when I was busy (typical kid, right?). First, Erika in the hospital, wearing a huge smile of anticipation. Then came the baby pics.
My God, what a beautiful baby. Yeah, I know, everyone says the same thing. But I’m not biased at all. (OK, maybe a little.) If my wife and I don’t get to hold her soon, we’re both gonna break some stuff.
With our reason to celebrate having arrived safely, I couldn’t help but wonder at the child’s timing.
Kid, have you not seen what’s going on in this world? Especially now? Did you not have access to the news these past nine months in the womb?
Why in the world would any human want to start a brand-new life in this particular year — of all years? That accursed “2020” is gonna be on every important document of her life, from her birth certificate to her driver’s license. Dang, Ella. You sure you don’t want to hold off for another few months? I’m sure Erika would have loved staying pregnant until January 2021.
Then it hit me. Now is exactly the time I needed Ella to get here. I needed a reason to bust out my big, goofy grin and my phone pics for any poor person who happened past me. I needed a big shot of hope.
I needed some happy, and Ella just brought the whole pile. I went home and deleted all the stuff I’d been writing before Wednesday. I forgot why I was mad.
She’s yet another reminder for this old fart that no matter how ugly things look or get, the miracle of a new life isn’t going to stop. A brand-new human who gets here with no preconceived biases or notions; a little girl who, for me, is even more reason to keep fighting to make things better. By the time she’s aware of her surroundings, I’ll do anything I can to keep her from feeling like smashing the keys on a keyboard.
I’ll fight later. Right now, I want to show off pics and celebrate the latest addition to our little family.
Ella Bella. Thank you, darlin’. Your timing might look a little off to the rest of the world.
But it was absolutely perfect for me.