Though his timing was off just a bit, their newborn son was all they had hoped for. Now it was a matter of getting him ready for his christening. That was enough to have Jerald wondering.
SACRAMENTO, CA (Dec, 2015)
“He’s so tiny,” Jerald Rogers repeated for the second or third time. “I just hope he grows into that nose.”
“He will,” Megan settled back in the elevated hospital bed as she nodded. “He’ll be a handsome one, just like his daddy.”
“Man, I hope he can do better than that.”
He paused, reminding himself how unreal it felt, talking about the little newborn snuggled against its mother’s breast. “Right now though, I’m just wishing he could have held off for a couple days.”
“Held off? What does that mean?”
“You’ve seen the stuff in the newspaper. How the first baby born in Sacramento in 2016 will win a bunch of stuff....free diapers for a year, free baby food, all sorts of things.”
With the mischievous wink Megan had come to know, Jerald added, “We could have been in the running for all that, but ole Ryan got to the party just a little too soon.”
Shaking her head, Megan tried for a scolding scowl. She was much too happy to make that work. “I was kind of hoping he could have got here a couple days ago. How special would that have been, having our baby on our first anniversary?
“Anyway, I guess he’s the independent sort, who decided to show up when he was good and ready. I'll take that to be a good sign.”
Although he would not remember the occasion, young Ryan Rogers was once again the center of his parents’ attention as he lay on the plastic-covered changing table in his nursery....which in their case was a converted walk-in closet. He was three weeks old, and being dressed for what Jerald and Megan were calling his “coming out party,” a Saturday-afternoon Christening Ceremony at the local Methodist Church.
“I wonder what he thinks about all this,” the proud father offered. “I just hope someone is there with a camera. We’ll want some pictures, so he can look back in a few years and see how pretty he was....though if he’s like most guys I'm pretty sure he’ll be cringing a bit.”
Megan was not about to be distracted by such talk. She was all smiles as she retied the baby’s tiny crocheted booties. “Aunt Ann will be there today. She made these for him, and I want to be sure she sees them.”
A moment later she asked Jerald to hold the boy upright while she smoothed the wrinkles from his long gown. “I hope you’re okay with this,” she said. “Having him in a dress. I know my mom will be proud as anything, having Ryan baptized in the same gown she made for my Christening. Putting a little boy in a dress at his age isn’t so wrong, is it?”
“Of course it’s not. Besides, he’ll be wrapped in a blanket. Who will even know?”
“You can imagine how sentimental Mom gets about things like that.”
“Yeah. That’s the way she is.” Laying his son back on the table, Jerald’s thoughts were taking him far beyond the moment, to a question that had him laughing softly.
“What’s so funny?”
He was poking at the baby’s belly, hoping to illicit a grin, as he looked up to explain. “I was just wondering if I was ever christened, or baptized, or anything like that. If so I was too young to remember.
"I'll have to ask my folks about that when they get here.....whether their church christens adopted kids.
Later that afternoon, at Megan’s parents’ home the extended Lowe and Roger families....aunts, uncles, grandparents....were gushing over baby Ryan and his special day. In the midst of those festivities Mrs. Lowe, Megan’s mother, sidled up to Jerald.
“You should be very proud of the little fellow,” she observed. “He’s certainly the star of today’s show.”
“You bet I am,” the grinning father agreed. “And I’m also very thankful that he has such great families to send him on his way.”
“That’s what it’s all about. Besides, all us grandparents are thankful to finally welcome our first grandchild.”
With that Jerald retreated to a corner armchair in the den, away from the others. There in the relative quiet he let his thoughts turn to the one grandmother who was not there among them ....the one who, if she was still alive, would never know the grandchild who would grow up without her in his life.
Of course Ryan was fortunate to have two caring grandmothers, Mrs. Lowe and Karen Rogers. Still, there was no denying the sad truth of the matter....in his son's case three grandmothers would have been so much better.
After a few minutes Megan located her missing husband and sat down on the arm of his chair. “This is quite a send off our little guy is getting. He’s so lucky to have so many nice folks in his corner.”
“You’re right,” he nodded.
She waited for more, but he sat, eyes closed, deep in the armchair. Finally, she asked, “What is it, honey? You’re awfully quiet.”
“I don’t know. I suppose I’m wishing we could share all this. I like to think it would please her too.”
“Her?” That caught Megan by surprise. Who was the “her” he was talking about? Then, before she could ask, it dawned on her. “You mean your birth mother?”
Jerald answered with a nod, nothing more, leaving her to wonder how she ought to continue. “She’s on your mind a lot these days. Isn’t she?”
“Yeah, she is,” he finally nodded. He wanted to leave it at that, but her questioning stare was asking for more. “I suppose it’s all this talk about family and grandparents....and all the good memories you have.”
“And I don’t have all those memories, at least not the same kind. My family has always been great, with Mom and Dad. But still, there’s a part that’s missing.”
Megan looked away, considering his complaints for a moment. “Everyone has grandparents, you know. You had your Rogers grandparents, at least until they passed away. And now your Mom and Dad are the best kind of grandparents to Ryan. You know that.”
“I know,” Jerald replied. “And I’ll alway be grateful for that. Because of them Ryan has two sets of grandparents. That’s great. But it still leaves one grandmother missing.”
“I guess so. But that’s the way it is.” She could have stopped there, but why do that when there was more that needed saying? Looking up she added a one word qualifier. “Unless........”
She had broached the subject before, always to be put off by Jerald’s abrupt rejection. What made her think this would be different? Except.....this time their very own child was part of her logic.
“Unless you you were able to find the woman who is Ryan’s third grandmother....and your mother. Seems like you have two reasons to do that now. At least to try.”
“Megan, we’ve gone over that before, haven’t we. More than once. And my answer is still the same. Why would I want to find someone who didn’t want me around in the first place?”
“You don’t know that. Maybe she had a good reason for what she did. Those things happen, you know. Haven’t you ever watched Dr. Phil?”
“I don’t think I’m a Dr. Phil kind of guy.”
“But you do like the idea of having a whole family, don’t you? One that includes all the pieces. I’ve heard you talk about that before. Wouldn’t finding your mother be a step in that direction?”
“Maybe so, but what if.......” Jerald’s reluctance was showing and his thought was left hanging as he turned away.
“What if....what? I don’t understand.” An instant later she realized the truth of it. “You’re afraid, aren’t you? Afraid that she wouldn’t want to see you.”
“For God sakes, woman. Will you stop it.” Megan had never before seen the tears that were filling his eyes.
“Can’t you understand? The lady gave me away, like something she didn’t need anymore. She had no use for me. So why would I matter to her now? And why should I let her matter to me?”
On her feet again, Megan started back to the living room, leaving him with one last grain of truth. “Because she does. She matters a lot to you. I can tell.”