“To my shock and amazement I burst into tears”

Here’s a beautiful account of the very beginning of grandmotherhood by Lois Wyse, an author and advertising executive who died in 2007 at age 80.

[T]he call came at 4 a.m. that the baby would be born within hours.

I rushed to the airport, caught a 7 a.m. plane, and ran for a cab to take me to the hospital. I did not telephone from the airport to learn what happened (I could not bear to hear about this birth from an impersonal voice on the telephone).

I went immediately to the maternity-floor waiting room, where all our family was assembled, and I heard those wonderful words. “It’s a healthy girl born ten minutes ago.”

Moments later, in her father’s arms, the baby came to meet us.

To my shock and amazement I burst into tears. But not just ordinary, run-of-the-mill tears. This was old-fashioned, heart-rending sobbing. For in that moment I was touched by every life that had preceded this new one.

My father, dead before even my son was born, was there. So, too, were my grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins. In a great, convulsive tide I was swept back to my beginnings—child, young wife, mother.

I was filled with the enormity of that sense of belonging, all of us, each to the other. We are bound by our inexorable, nonending saga. We are the human story. We are us. And now she is us. And only God knows what lies ahead of us—and all life.

Excerpted from Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Grandmother (1988).