In 1988, my parents’ first grandchild was born. She weighed more than my wife, and because space was limited, her foot was jammed and needed to be in a cast for several weeks to straighten it out. None of that mattered. My mother was overjoyed that I married a red-headed Irish girl from Rockaway, and now was over the moon with her first grandchild, a girl, named Katie.
In 1989, Disney launched their first animated feature in a long time, one that would set it on a course back to the top again, The Little Mermaid. Ariel, the red-headed mermaid, finds her footing (no pun intended) in life and love on-shore with Eric, and despite Ursula’s bad intentions, lives happily ever after. Oh, and by the way, her father, King Triton, was delighted. I am sure this story played out in every household in America that year.
So, it was natural that my mermaid should introduce our little mermaid to Ariel via a VHS tape deck. Now-a-days, kids have no idea what that is! In real life, there are many Ursula’s out there, and trying to navigate the sometimes-rough seas can be tricky. But with the help of the gods, one can find love and happiness in this life, even during a pandemic and social unrest. But life is not always a bed of roses, and sometimes we lose those who are closest to us, for reasons that are beyond our comprehension. So, it was with my mom, as she left us way too early. Happily, she got to enjoy several of her grandchildren, but never forgot the thrill of the first little mermaid running around her apartment, spoiling her to no end. I know I was blessed because many people don’t even get to enjoy those small moments.
In 2019, thirty years later, like the little mermaid found her Eric, my little mermaid, found hers, and got married. Luckily my dad was here to enjoy the moment and celebrate her wedding. It seems that weddings remind us all, of why we are here, to love and to be loved, and I am sure my dad felt those feelings.
It was eighteen years ago that we lost my mom on a Fourth of July weekend at the young age of 70. I say young age, because each year I creep closer to that number myself; still far enough away to think that I am still young, and maybe I believe am. When my little mermaid announced that she was expecting, it took my breath away, and made me reconsider the notion that I was young, because clearly life was happening all around me at a much faster pace than I ever imagined. But this was a joyous announcement, especially in a pandemic with so much sadness around.
And as we emerged from the pandemic, I was hopeful that my dad would be here to see his first great-grandchild. But that was not to be, as it was time for him to rejoin his love, as the circle requires of all of us at some point. I know that I am not alone in losing someone close during this past year, and I can only say, you are not alone either.
This week my little mermaid gave birth to a beautiful little mermaid of her own. Rowan entered this world on July 1, joining her mother, aunt, and mother-in-law as July babies. And my mermaid’s gift to me was the addition of Rowan’s middle name, eighteen years to the month of her grandmother’s passing, Maureen, honoring her memory and my father’s love. King Triton could not have been prouder or happier. And so, the story continues; Rowan will have to navigate her own seas, but there will be plenty of guides to help her through the tricky passages. Some will be here on earth, others will be looking down, smiling, gently guiding, and remembering how wonderful life can really be. I hope that everyone finds some joy this summer, and a reason to smile. “Life”, as Jeff Goldblum so aptly put it, “finds a way.” But that’s another movie and another story altogether!