I am grateful for firsts. Life is full of firsts when we start out. First tooth, first steps, first day of school, first date, first kiss. I suppose as we age the number of firsts shrinks slightly or at least we have to try harder to find events that qualify as a first. There are a lot of firsts remaining, but maybe fewer that we are interested in accomplishing. I’m no longer interested in having my first jump from an airplane, being pushed or otherwise, though once upon a time I thought it might be cool. In high school, my very dear friend Jim Avis had me convinced it would be great fun and we were planning just such an adventure when my father decided otherwise. The thought of doing that now makes me weak at the knees. I can draw my last breath without having had a first root canal. I can live without my first taste of frog legs or deep-fried crickets and I can die happy without having climbed Mount Everest.
Sometimes we older folk forget what it is like to be doing things for the first time. There’s been such a gap since we learned to walk, since we first rode a bike, that it is only natural to forget the worries and excitement. Those of us who work in professions of repetitiveness like a delivery room nurse or a real estate lawyer should remind ourselves daily that we once had our first baby or purchased our first home and the experience can be baffling and frightening for those just embarking on such things.
Samantha just had her first baby, a boy and yes he is absolutely perfect and beautiful and wonderful and precious and …., I think you catch the drift. And while she was in the middle of having a baby she and her husband bought a new house. It’s old hat for the real estate lawyer and his staff; they’ve closed thousands of house deals undoubtedly. But … they hadn’t closed a house deal for my daughter; that was a brand new first time experience. And he forgot to tell her all the little bits and pieces of buying a house, forgot to remember that she and her husband had no experience with this kind of transaction and as a result, things slipped through that shouldn’t have, big surprises of closing costs scared them unnecessarily, and the vendors were able to do things improperly in closing. A story for another day but it brought out the mother bear in me that wanted to beat a good reminding into these individuals.
I was with Samantha from the start of her labour until the finish, an activity, I might add, that is not for the faint of heart. To watch my child in such pain was almost too much to bear, but I hung in there and was glad of it when I got to hold my brand new grandson just freshly new. Nurses and doctor offered little or no reassurance, little or no explanation of what they were up to and what Samantha could expect from some complications that showed up during delivery. She did very well to stay focused but we naturally lean on professionals to take the fear away. I wanted to take the staff aside and remind them, using my angry eyes, that empathy is a wonderful and necessary quality to retain in their line of work. As with so many things, if we could just put ourselves in the shoes of others and let that guide our behaviour and reactions, all would go much more smoothly and hearts would not take such a beating.