I recently had one of the greatest days of my life. Now most who know me know that I am not prone to hyperbole, so obviously this was a big deal for me. What could be so great? Well, as you likely saw in Cherise’s previous entry, my family was in town. Having my brother, aunt and uncle in town to spend time with Iris was wonderful. However, nothing was like the moment my dad first laid eyes on his grandaughter. Seeing my father meet Iris may have been the single most wonderful moment of my life.
I suppose the best way to explain the magnitude of the event is for me to share the epiphany I had a matter of minutes after Iris was born. You see, in the final weeks of the pregnancy, I was imagining what my thoughts would be when I would hold Iris in my arms for the first time. I had this romantic vision of seeing our future race before my eyes–all those typical fatherly things like getting her to say her first word (I’m rooting for "Dada" or "McNair"), teaching her how to ride a bike, treating her skinned knees, and getting cute little father’s day gifts. When Iris was born, it turns out I was right and I did see all of those things. The difference was I saw it all as flashbacks with me and my father. My dad has defined my image of fatherhood and he set the bar high. I guess I always knew what he did for me and certainly knew how much he loved me (just like my mother), but I never really understood why he made those sacrifices–that is until Iris was in my arms. As I looked at this tiny being, I realized this was exactly what my dad saw 34 years ago (when I say exactly, I mean exactly–everyone says she looks like me :-> ). It’s about more than just loving this creature more than life itself. It’s all about patience and sacrifices and this eternal obligation that never goes away and yet never seems like a chore. While the enormity of my own newfound fatherhood wasn’t lost on me, I seemed to be more struck by a greater appreciation for everything my father ever did for me.
When I finally left the hospital room after Iris’ birth, I quickly got on my cell phone to call my father. A tear rolled down my face as he picked up the phone and I uttered those words that I will certainly never forget: "hello grandpa". It felt like the ultimate gift I could grant him, but perhaps more importantly, I felt more connected to him that ever before–even though he was 3000 miles away. It’s as if the unspoken bond between us now has a new undertone: "I get it, dad. I finally get it.". As I would say to him on a phone call a month later, "Dad, I just want to say I’m sorry". He asked, "for what?", to which I responded "Everything!"…
Needless to say, seeing them together last week was something I will take with me for the rest of my life. Three generations of Khaund under one roof. And wouldn’t you know it–he was a natural with Iris. Every time she became cranky, my dad’s voice raised an octave and he calmly soothed her troubles away. I laughed every time I heard it because it was exactly what he used to do with me. Being a granddad (or "Koka") really suits him and he is having fun with it. Clearly, the rewards of fatherhood extend beyond my relationship with Iris. Who knew?