Welcome to baby Isadora!
Pour me a drink, my head is spinning!
I got to celebrate — a girl!
Somebody weave a chain of daisies;
You’ve got to decorate a pearl.
Tie her a bow of scarlet ribbons.
We’ve got to crown a tiny curl.
Pick out a tender tune for singing;
I got to welcome me a girl!
– “It’s a Boy!,” Shenandoah1
She is my baby sister, more than five years younger than I am. Alone of my younger brothers and sisters, she is the one whose birthday I don’t remember. She was very ill when she was born, and our parents tried to prepare us older ones for the chance that she wouldn’t survive. So it’s not the day she was born that I remember. It’s the day she came home, the day I got to hold her for the first time, the day I first knew that she — like our older sister Diana — would be my best friend for life.
And late last night, in Virginia, my baby sister, who’s always been called Kacy, became a grandmother for the very first time.
Isadora, daughter of my nephew Ian and his wife Lindsay, is of course the most beautiful, most perfect baby girl in the entire world, even in a middle-of-the-night cellphone photo:
(Warning: if you disagree, keep it to yourself. You are never gonna convince me. No way no how.)
Now this didn’t happen quite the way we had all dreamed it would. (No, for pete’s sake, I’m not about to comment on anybody’s private affairs. Geez, people!)
First, you see, my sister teaches 9th grade earth science. And you know what 9th graders have — and give to their teachers? And what my sister has, right now? Mononucleosis. Not exactly what you’d like to pass on to your very first brand-spanking-new baby granddaughter. So instead of covering that adorable little face with kisses, Kacy is covering her own face. With a surgical mask. And her clothes with a surgical gown. And her hands with surgical gloves. We’ve laughed about how often she’ll kiss that face to make up for this: “Grandma, for heaven’s sake! It’s the groom’s turn!”
Second, when Kacy and I first talked about what it would be like for her to be a grandmother, back when Ian himself was a baby, it never occurred to either of us that the very first thing I would do when I got the word about Isadora’s birth — after letting other family members know — was carefully enter her name, birthdate and birthplace in my genealogy database, carefully and neatly linked to her parents (and, yes, Elizabeth, honest! I entered the text message as a source citation!2).
And third, it occurs to me that I now understand fully my grandfather’s comment when we got the world that my first cousin once removed Shawn — first of the great grandchildren — had been born. He looked around, then looked at my grandmother, and slyly smiled. “I love being a great grandfather!” he proclaimed. “But I sure as hell hate being married to a great grandmother!” (And yes, she did hit him.)
Me… I love being a great aunt (now for the fourth time). But I sure as hell hate being old enough that my baby sister is a grandmother.
- Shenandoah, the Musical; music by Gary Geld, lyrics by Peter Udell. And no, I didn’t make a mistake; the name of the song really is “It’s a Boy!” ↩
- Kacy St. Clair to Judy G. Russell, cellphone text message, 25 May 2012, 11:31 p.m., “Mother and baby are happy and healthy;” privately held by Russell. ↩