I only recently found this, and I thought it would be appropriate, since October 17 was just last week. I wrote this my junior year as an essay for a summer program. The question? “You are 75 years old. You have just finished your 300 page autobiography. Submit page 217.” This is what I came up with.
On October 17, 2062, my first granddaughter was born. I went to visit her at the hospital on a beautiful autumn day, with a clear, cloudless blue sky. When my son placed her in my arms, I was overcome with awe.
When I first went to visit Grace in the hospital, I was overwhelmed. Looking down upon her tiny face, with her wide, expressive blue eyes gazing up at me, looking straight into my own, I felt as though I had opened a door and stepped straight through without hesitation. I was experiencing a rite of passage as a seventy-two year old woman. The portal through which I had just stepped was none other than the door to grandmotherhood. By just stepping through that door, I was beginning a new life. I knew that the child I held in my arms was not only my son’s first child, but my first child as well. Grace was the first child of this new, magical phase in my new life. She immediately became the most precious thing in my life.
Have you ever looked straight into a newborn baby’s eyes? Those eyes gaze back at you with such wisdom that you can be moved to tears. Some say that babies look into your eyes with confusion; others say they look into your eyes with trust. I say that they look into your eyes with knowledge. They may look a little confused, and they may look at you to tell you they trust you, but ultimately, they look at you as if to say, “I know everything. I could tell you so many stories if I only could form the words.” Babies must know everything when they are born, or how else can we explain the amazing feeling it is to hold such a tiny new life? We all start out this way, with this primal knowledge, but as we grow older, we forget. We forget what we knew when we were first born, staring at our parents with small smiles on our faces. Through our whole lives, we work to gain the knowledge that we once had. Starting at age five, children are sent to school, to learn to add and subtract, write and draw, just to regain what they once knew, but were too secretive to share with the world. The older you get, the more you know, but as you advance past middle age, you begin to forget again, regressing back into childhood. But just before we leave this earth, we once again have the wisdom we had when we were born, without the capacity to express it.
My granddaughter Grace came at a time when I was starting to forget. She helped me renew my sense of wonder at the world around me. Watching her stare at her hands for hours on end, staring solemnly at the fingernails her parents and I delighted in, I realized that I, too, should take time every day to stop and enjoy the little things.
“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.” –Anaïs Nin