Welcome! Bienvenido!

Balboa Park  Balboa Park, San Diego. Photo by Paul Mayer

 

BY KIMBERLY MAYER

When I first laid eyes on Hunter he was smaller than I had imagined. I realize now I had been enlarging every photo his parents sent to us until his eyes were the size of walnuts, and his hands and feet humongous. I remember looking at those mitts and crowing, “our grandson is going to be a baseball player!”

Then we are in San Diego and he is in my arms and, to my surprise, holding him is one part scary. On one hand I fold right into position. On the other hand, I’m all elbows and thumbs. It is his parents that are best with him. I like being seated with pillows to help brace his rolling head. Seems half the weight of a newborn baby is in the head. Now I see him as cerebral—and this little boy is brilliant. In a gush I promise him an education and a drafting table, for I see AIA beside his name.

In truth Hunter mostly sleeps. His eyes dream and dance in his skull, and his little mouth moves with the memory of milk. Like a frog he keeps his legs tucked in, and his arms don’t know where to go or what to do with themselves. We are doing newborn babies a favor, I have learned, by swaddling them in a blanket or cloth. An old idea that’s come around again.

Like a procession we move into his nursery and out of his nursery. His parents, grandparents, and an aunt who flew in from NYC. A procession wherever he goes. If he has his days and nights flipped, we wouldn’t know. We’re with him. We venture out, bags and baggage and carriage. A procession to Balboa Park.

I once knew what it was to raise babies in San Diego. As my son-in-law says, my life is passing before me here. I know of no place better for being outdoors 365 days a year. Even now I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a sky so blue—not for a long time anyway. But San Diego in our day had fewer cars on the freeways. No one had air conditioning, and no one saw the need. The Safari Park was called The Wild Animal Park, and as members we nearly had it to ourselves. Pushing a stroller we hiked out on the mesas, the savannah, while herds of animals roamed. Do my daughters remember those days as I do? It was a part of me then, and a part of me now.

One more memory returns to me of the earliest days. Shut in, home alone, and hormones raging. I am nursing my newborn baby and crying uncontrollably. Across the room a small black & white television set is on softly. Public Service Announcements, particularly “Save the Children,” air frequently between daytime programs, and I lose it every time, day after day. I am holding my baby and weeping over the fact that she is one of the lucky ones born on this side of the border, when just a few miles away can be all the difference in the world.

Little has changed.

But this time I have to go, I can’t stay. So long, Hunter. You are in good hands and in a good place. From the vantage point of the plane there’s one long coast between us, one beautiful stretch. One ocean alongside us. And a kayak in the bay up here for you, always.

12 Comments

Filed under The US/Mexican border

12 responses to “Welcome! Bienvenido!

  1. Val

    Absolutely beautiful as always but this one, so special. This brings out every emotion, every memory and every dream ever dreamt! A brand new life just waiting to be lived and loved. And one lucky new life to have such an insightful, articulate Grandmother. You know how to touch with your words and I love reading what you write. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Thank you, Val. I’m wondering how long little Hunter is going to wiggle his way into my posts? The same thing happened when my mother died. No matter what I set out to write, she kept appearing. Life and death, there’s nothing bigger or more profound.

  2. Alice B. Acheson

    Loved the frog analogy!!!!

    Alice

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Tug Yourgrau

    Kim, so beautiful. Brings back memories of our babies. And thoughts of the asylum seekers. Love the last line. Happy Easter, we’ll be doing the Passover Seder then Easter. And see you soon in Tel Aviv Hi to Paul Love, Tug

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  4. Elizabeth Ahrens Yourgrau

    I vividly remember walking with you and “baby Ashley” at “The Wild Animal Park”. Seems to me, we were alone and our photos confirm it.

    As for tearful new Mother memories, I remember being very emotionally invested in the well-being of “Baby Jessica”. Remember that story? She became famous on October 14, 1987, at the age of 18 months after she fell into a well in her aunt’s backyard in Midland, Texas. Sarah and David were 7 weeks old. Her rescue was an enormous relief and confirmed that everything was going to be okay.
    Happy the age-old practice of swaddling is soothing Hunter and other infants

    • I remember being suspended too with “Baby Jessica.”
      Love that you have memories of The Wild Animal Park with me. It was my Out of Africa experience every week. And what we didn’t realize then, was how fortunate we were to know San Diego way back when. When it was all ours!

  5. So long ago, we were babies too. We survive if we are the lucky ones. Your babies have grown and now you have a new branch; from your roots a new chillun has sprung up, seeking the swaddling like a thirsty bug. I’m so happy for you!

  6. Beautiful, Kim. It makes me so happy to think of all the JOY in your family right now. Hormones and tears too–oh, we all remember, don’t we?–but such joy.

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