There is this girl who my heart and she calls me Daddy.
[My Little Cowgirl]
I got the call when I was assembling computer components at a bench in Building 18, IBM Endicott, NY.
Actually, the manager took the call. He came over to my work place and said that there was a message for me from Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton.
It was June 9, 1972. I was expecting the call. I was about to become a father.
When I arrived at the hospital, the nurse took me to the waiting room. In those days, fathers were not allowed in the delivery room. Expectant fathers are usually depicted on TV and in movies as nervous, bumbling jangled fools. Not me. I calmly read the out dated magazines. I do believe I even read an entire article in the Reader’s Digest.
How long did I wait? I simply don’t recall, but I was approaching that boring stage, when a doctor entered the room. He asked my name and extended a hand.
“Mr. Egan, Bernadette is here.”
With those words, my life changed.
Let me backtrack for a moment. After the IBM manager told me I had a phone call I went to him and told him I had to leave for the hospital. On my way to the door, I stopped to tell the news to a guy whose job it was to keep the assembly people (me) supplied with diodes and transistors. He shook my hand and wished me luck.
“Oh, more thing,” he said.
I went back to his window.
“Boy or girl, doesn’t matter. But a word of advice. Play with them. Love them. Watch them because they will grow up faster than you can possibly imagine.”
“Thanks, I will,” I replied as I headed for the parking lot. I really didn’t believe him. How can time go faster just because one becomes a parent?
I can say now, without hesitation, that that man was absolutely correct.
There was a song I remembered:
Turn around and she’s one, turn around and she’s two…turn around and she’s a young woman going out of the door.
Erin (her middle name was fast becoming her first name) did grow up quickly. I took her hiking in the Adirondacks, canoeing on the Susquehanna River and showed her London, Paris and Moscow. I took her to Broadway shows. I watched her skate on New Years Eve at Rockefeller Center.
In college, she earned a double major, English and Religious Studies. She’s a trained Paralegal, she proofs and edits the books I’ve published and she beats me without mercy in our ongoing online Scrabble game. Now we play chess on our iPads. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and I live in the North Country of New York State.
Now, she is a mother of an adorable five-year-old boy, Elias. I gave her the advice that I was given.
[Erin and Elias]
“Erin, it all goes by so fast…love him and play with him…it all goes by so fast.”
Generations come and go like water over Niagara. Being a parent isn’t for everyone. It’s not a requirement for life. But the experience of holding a tiny girl baby one day and then cuddling her tiny little baby boy is a part of life that I wouldn’t trade for a brick of gold.
[All photos are mine]