My father was even older -- forty-five -- when I was born. And he died six months before Ethan was born. He never knew his grandchildren. And I never knew my father's father, who died when I was a baby.
I often think: We need to break this family tradition of old dads. We need to break this family tradition of grandchildren not knowing their grandfathers.
When my father died, my wife was in the room with him. My pregnant wife and my son -- his grandson. This brings me great comfort.
Father's Day is tomorrow. It's always a day that's bittersweet for me. I will look at my children and marvel. And I will think of all that my father has missed, all that I've missed in sharing the experience of fatherhood with him.
Toward the end, he wasn't lucid. He tried to get out of bed and we had to restrain him. He was surly. He mumbled. He talked of trips and suitcases (fairly common, the hospice people told us).
This was a time of morphine drops and diapers and waiting. We kept thinking this was it, this was it, he wouldn't make it another day. But then he did.
On one such day I remember sitting with him. His eyes were closed and I wasn't sure if he was asleep or not. I told him that this child (Ethan) would know who he is. I would tell him about his grandfather. I would let him know. I promised this. I touched his skin, which was already starting to feel cold and dead and not of this world.
And I've tried. I will try. I have to try. These are the promises that you keep.