I’m lying on the floor, rolled up in the ragged sleeping bag that I resurrected from the basement. Makayla, one of our granddaughters, is in her bed beside me. She’s 3. Her railing is up, and we’ve carefully arranged her friends so they’re comfortable. Of course, Bear, with his simple smile, stubby ears and arms, and raggedy cloth body, has a special place on the pillow beside her. Best friends since Makayla was born, they often have conversations. Sometimes Makayla asks Bear important questions, such as “Where are your legs?” and Bear stoically answers, “I left them at home.”
In the bedroom next door, Makayla’s 5-year-old sister, Gianna, is also arranging her bed while my wife, better known as Grandma, settles into the twin bed beside her. I started dating Grandma when we were both 17. At the time, I never thought of calling her Grandma. Not once. I close my eyes, remembering. Sometimes Gianna asks how old I am. When I tell her, Gianna’s eyebrows spike, and she says, “That’s a big number!” And it is.
Makayla sits up in bed, her red, moppy hair flaring out at angles. She has my reading lamp in her hand. She twirls it like a rag doll. Streaks of light and wild shadows dash about the room. She steadies the lamp and shines it on the ceiling, saying, “Look, Papa, the moon.”
“Wow,” I say.
Makayla was born in a frantic, frightening rush. One day we’ll tell her the story of her birth—how her daddy drove her mommy to the hospital in a snow storm, how if…