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Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 3:58 a.m.

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SHARON RANDALL

New baby has hearts in toehold from start

This article was published February 15, 2017 at 1:45 a.m.

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so I wanted to make the best of it.

I was all prepared to knock his socks off; to smile into his eyes, win his heart, and make him see I was someone who'd always be in his corner and who was so very glad to meet him.

He never gave me a look. Not one little sideways glance -- even when I played with his toes.

My husband and I, in a second marriage for both of us, share five grown children, three of whom are married, and, until recently, five of the world's most perfect grandchildren.

Archer made it six. He was born recently, the first son of my husband's first son.

He's the spitting image of his sister Charlotte when she was an infant. They could've been twins -- fair haired, pink-skinned and big -- born five years apart.

I don't recall Charlotte's exact birth weight. Archer weighed almost 9 pounds. Amazing, isn't it, how something so big, relatively speaking, can seem so small? He barely filled my lap.

My husband (affectionately known in our family as Papa Mark) and I couldn't make it to northern California in time for the birth. Archer was 2 days old when we met him.

Papa Mark held him first. I waited my turn and visited with Charlotte, who tried to explain to me in patient detail, as if training a slow-witted dog, hundreds of cartoonlike characters called Pokemon.

Charlotte loves Pokemon. I'm sure I'd love it, too, if I had the slightest clue of what it's about.

I've been thinking of hosting a seminar for new grandmothers called "Nana Camp." One of the classes could be "Unraveling Pokemon and Other Mysteries of Life." Charlotte could teach it.

When it was finally my turn to hold Archer, I positioned a U-shaped Boppy Pillow in my lap (where were those things when I was nursing babies?) and held my breath as his mom, bless her, placed him on the pillow and entrusted him to my care.

He squirmed and stretched, like he might

wake up, but never opened his eyes. Meanwhile, I did what most of us do with a newborn: I checked him out.

Ten fingers. Ten toes. A perfect bow-shaped mouth. Dimples on his knees. Skin like an angel fresh from heaven.

Papa Mark and I had scrubbed like surgeons when we arrived, hoping to lessen the risk of passing along, God forbid, any germs. But I was still careful not to touch Archer's face or hands. Instead, I played with his feet.

When I tickled his heel, he stretched out his toes. Whoa, they were long. Then, to my delight, he curled them first around my finger, then around my heart and held me fast.

It lasted only a moment -- one I'll not soon forget. He took me back to the past, to the joy I felt when my babies were born, but he also took me to the future.

A baby is a promise: a much-needed reminder that life persists in spite of everything, and anything, yes, is possible.

When it was time to go, we said our goodbyes and left Archer, still sleeping, with his mom. Charlotte and her dad walked us out to the car.

I was buckling my seat belt when Charlotte darted up the sidewalk, stooped down for something, then ran back.

"Here, Nana Sharon!" she said, handing me what appeared to be a fistful of snowy white stars. Narcissus. My favorite spring flower. Charlotte didn't know that, but I did.

A week later, here they are in a vase on our kitchen table, still fresh, still fragrant.

I plan to dry them and keep them as long as I can. Maybe I'll use them for a Nana Camp class: "Preserving Stolen Flowers and Other Precious Memories."

And someday, if I'm lucky, who knows? Maybe Archer will wake up and give me a second chance to make a first impression.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson, Nev. 89077, or on her website:

sharonrandall.com

Family on 02/15/2017

Print Headline: New baby has hearts in toehold from start

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