Saturday, July 23, 2011

No Ketchup

One waits, the waiting accompanied by a pulsing of anticipation/excitement/worry.

Seven months ago I waited for this to be done:

Once the snow melted, I began to wait for these:

Today I waited for my grandson to be born.

This was different than when my granddaughter was born. Sixteen years have passed and life has changed, of course. On that day I was an active participant in the birth and while the pulsing was certainly there, my attention was on my daughter, my focus was keenly on her and the incredible ordinary magic of the process.

Today I waited. I sat on the couch in my living room working while the dog and cats slept nearby, the historic heat pressed its estimable weight on the world and, a few short miles away, my daughter once again labored through the incredible ordinary magic of giving birth. The pulsing this time was nearly deafening, pulling my mind and heart away from the work at hand. When the pulsing overwhelmed, I called friends and talked until it was just a hum in the background.

In the evening family assembled—my daughter's sister and aunt, my husband, Florida Freddy. We ate pizza, we laughed, we talked. We waited together. Then a point came when I knew I had to go to the hospital—worry had overwhelmed all the other elements of waiting. I drove the few miles, walked in to the labor/delivery room, checked out what was going on and, after a little while, came home again.

Two hours later my phone buzzed. "Baby's here. Shannon says Wendy's, please."

We all piled into one car and headed for the drive through. I spoke into the intercom, gave the order. "A #1 with cheese and no onions."

"No ketchup?"

"No. No onions."

Shannon's aunt said, "Where did she get 'no ketchup?'" 

We all laughed, releasing the swirl of anticipation and excitement (no more worry). We laughed again when the two giant cups of soda were passed out of the drive through window. We laughed again when we saw the sign proclaiming that ketchup and salt were available by request. We even laughed when we got stuck behind a man on a motorcycle following the white line on the right side of the road at 10 mph in a 35 zone—though our laughter was once again tinged with worry.

In the vestibule we had to wait to be allowed in—a group of five giddy adults carrying tubs of soda and a paper sack redolent of grease and salt, surrounded by a pulsing halo of excitement and anticipation that was surely visible.

Down the hall, the nurses calling congratulations from their station and then the waiting was over and there was this:

Look at those eyes. Look at the old soul peering out from inside.

When I held him for the first time, I felt a pulsing made of wonder and gratitude and the incredible ordinary magic of love.


Anonymous said...

Oh, yes... an old soul indeed. Enjoy every minute, Grandma!

Judy said...

That's the soul of the Universe looking back at you, Elizabeth. Congratulations on the beautiful grandson; and may all the diapers Grandma gets to change be just the wet ones.

Elizabeth Hilts said...

Thanks Kasha.
Thanks Judy. I second that idea.

hstaines said...

Wonderful! Congratulations all around!

Cie said...

This made my day! "Incredible ordinary magic" is exactly right! He is perfect, and you could not have said it better. Bless you all and congratulations!!!

Erin said...

amazing elizabeth, simply amazing. congrats to your family.

Elizabeth Hilts said...

Thanks, all.

Ed said...

Curiously, Louis' Lunch in New Haven, which makes the dubious claim of being the birthplace of the hamburger, refuses to provide ketchup. Sliced tomatoes, no ketchup.

Oh, and congratulations on the beautiful grandson!

Elizabeth Hilts said...

I wonder if Wendy's has told their franchises in Connecticut to always ask just in case the person ordering is Louis?

Thank you.

Daisy said...

You made me tear up. Again. I love this and I love you. So happy for all of you.

Elizabeth Hilts said...

Aaaawww, thanks!
I love you.

Phil said...


Jane said...

So very happy for all of you! Wonderful post, E!