By Kaye Ketterer
This particular Tuesday was no different than most. I took the bus into work and felt good about life as this was my last week of work. I had been planning for the last year and a half to retire on July 14, 2016. In addition to retiring, I was waiting for my first grandchild to be born.
My arrival to work was uneventful and I got busy continuing to sort and get rid of things in my office. It was about 9:45am when my husband called and said that my son, Brad and daughter in law, Jamie had gone to the hospital as Jamie was in labor. I was so excited I couldn’t do much work after that. The day went by really slow and that night I hardly slept at all. We did get occasional texts from Brad keeping us informed of how things were progressing. Finally, the text came telling us our granddaughter was born and to welcome Molly into the world at 2:45am on July 13, 2016.
Of course, I wanted to come see her right away, but I waited until 10:00am so Molly had time to bond with her parents. So, I went to work as usual and told anyone that looked at me that I was now a grandma and a grandma about to retire! Paul picked me up about 9:45 and off we went to meet my granddaughter. Seeing her for the first time was an experience like no other.
As I took Molly from her mother’s arms I was filled with hope at the miracle of new life. Molly just fit perfectly in my arms like she had always been there and she grunted and squeaked to let me know she knew me. As I held her, she would turn her head towards her parents when she heard their voices. Memories of my own two children when they were babies flashed through my mind and I was bursting with love for my adult son and his wife. I felt a new kind of love for my granddaughter. Molly was a beautiful baby, just like her father and mother. Her hair was dark and there was a lot of it. She weighed in at 8# 3oz and was 20 inches long. She was perfect.
In the days that followed, we saw her a lot. Her parents camped out in their family suite at the hospital getting to know her every sound and movement. The suite included a big queen size bed, a bassinet for Molly, three reclining chairs, and a private bathroom. It was a very safe place that had the secure back-up of a wonderful staff to help when needed. When they came home with Molly, I continued to visit her every day and sang her songs, read her books, and talked to her a lot. I’ve continued to help out by tending their garden and picking raspberries. Her parents are proud–and tired, and hoping for a good night’s sleep someday.
As a new grandmother, I’ve put on the role quite easily. It is easy to do with adult children who are smart and fun to be around. I imagine future days with Molly picking raspberries in her back yard, going to the park, and reading books together. Being retired gives me freedom to do things when I want to and allows me to spend plenty of time with Molly.
Retiring from work that I had done for 15 years in this job was not so hard. There were changes on the horizon at my work and they were not changes that I wanted to deal with. The last week was very special and I didn’t want a big party, so my colleagues got me a delicious cake and on my last day we ate cake and throughout the day my colleagues came into my office to say goodbye and we did a bit of remembering the fun times we’d had working together. It didn’t feel a lot like a final goodbye as I’ll keep in touch with many of my colleagues.
Reflecting on these two major events in my life has also made me think of how free I am and how the privileged freedom of my life impacts others in their chains of imprisonment. In his book “Teaching with Conscience in an Imperfect World”, William Ayers says that freedom can never be an individual pursuit. Ayers says, “Freedom is social; it’s found in the company of others.” (p. 54) Knowing this, then if one person is not happy, how can I be happy? If one person is hurting, I hurt. Freedom in a true democracy has everyone working for the good of all.
I rejoice in my good life that got even better, but I don’t take it for granted. I know how fortunate I am. New little Molly depends on her parents for all her needs and her parents depend on others to support them in her care and upbringing. As Molly grows, laws will be passed and laws will be enforced that may give Molly freedom or imprison her in her own self. Growing up in a privileged family, Molly will soon come to know the differences in families and realize that none of us are truly free until society bends in the direction of meeting the needs of all, not just some.
(c) 2016 Kaye Ketterer
Kaye lives in Monona, Wisconsin, and keeps her country roots close to her heart. Along with writing, her interests include music, traveling, children, and the elderly.
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When Kaye read her essay at our August “First Monday, First Person” salon for memoir writers, I was struck by how what started with a light, almost “Hallmark Card” tone grew deeper as it unfolded. I encouraged her to share it with readers of TSWT.
Kaye chose to change some names to protect the identity of family members, and chose not to publish an image of Beautiful Baby Molly. Memoirists must be mindful of unintended consequences when we write about other people.