Four years ago my grandfather asked me when I was going to give him a great-grandchild. I told him babies weren't on my bucket-list. When he pressed me to settle down and have children (You're 40 now!) I told him I'd raised two sisters, two step sisters, and two parents--that I was done. We'd had that same exchange on a few previous occasions, but this time he nodded to himself. He seemed to accept what I was saying. I don't know that I was his favorite grandchild, but I was his first grandchild. I think that I was the only one of his grand-daughters who stayed in touch, and he always seemed to blame himself for my determination to be an "old maid."
He's been gone three years now, and I think he'd be so thrilled to know that I'm settled-down with a good man and that I'm having a baby. I miss him, and I'm sad my son will never know his great-grandfather, a man I loved and respected and was privileged to care for in the final days of his fight with cancer.
My sister Tammy died 4 years ago. She always wanted a family. She married young and bought a house with a white picket fence and then learned that she couldn't have kids. Like me, she was diagnosed with PCOS. The loss of that dream of living happily ever after changed her. She lived "family life" vicariously through our other sister and her children, but it wasn't enough. In her last days she was very sad that she'd never had a child. It seemed to be her one real regret. I think if she'd had a child she would have fought harder to live. I wish she was here to share the miracle of this pregnancy with. I think she would have loved being an Auntie again. And I'm sure she would have driven me just as nuts as she did our sister Terri, with all of her opinions about how to raise our children.
My uncle Jan would be thrilled, too. We had a special connection, Jan and me, and know he'd be happy, too. He'd probably be pressing me to get married, but that's ok. He learned to respect my life-style choices even as he considered me a sinner. It's hard to believe he's been gone for 15 months already. The time has just flown by.
So much of my family has passed away. So many loved ones that I wish I could introduce my son to when he arrives. I feel sad about that, but try not to let it settle too deeply on me. That last thing I want to do is plunge into some sort of depression that will be difficult to shake.
A new life is entering the world soon. There is no replacing the ones who have passed away before him, but I'll tell him stories about Big Jan and Grandpa Hank and Auntie Tam and he'll know them in his own way. That's the beauty of language and memory. We're immortal as long as we're remembered.