“Meeting Archer,” Feb. 7, 2017

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. 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. Someone 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 sec0nd 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 last weekend, the first son of my husband’s first son.

I wish you could see him.

He’s the spitting image of his sister Charlotte when she was an infant. They could’ve been twins born five years apart, fair haired, pink-skinned and big. 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 two 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 cartoon-like 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 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 seatbelt 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 wish you could smell them.

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.


  1. Janet McAliley says

    Sharon, I love all your columns, but especially the ones about your grandkids. I have two & as you know, they are the most wonderful grands in the world. I am keeping these two special ones while their mom & dad enjoy a quiet Valentine day together out of town. The best thing about staying over together is getting woke up at 5:45 a.m. with precious arms wrapped around my neck & a sweet voice saying “I love you Meemee”! Made my day, week, year! The best to you & all your family.Janet

  2. congratulations!!!

  3. I remember you mentioning Nana Camp another time. I think it’s a fabulous idea, truly! And I like the idea for ‘seasoned’ grammas too, not just new ones. We need all the encouragement we can get as we navigate the waters these days. My g’kids are 6, 9, 10, 12. I hope you do it Sharon! 🙂 And congratulations on number six!

  4. Congratulations to you and Papa Mark! Nothing compares to a baby fresh from heaven!

  5. Such a sweet story. Congratulations to all!
    I had to laugh at the Pokémon part. I’m not at all familiar with Transformers, Star Wars, well, there’s a long list… I’m sure you got points for listening intently! ?

  6. So beautiful, Sharon. This makes me long for another baby,even as my current 17-month-old is “telling” me in her toddler-babble that her big 3-year-old brother was mean to her somehow with the Thomas train toys. But a sweet baby! Congratulations!

    And, yes, the Boppy! The BEST thing to have as a new mom. I’ve worn out 3 over the last 12 years.

  7. Barb Fisher says

    Ahhh Sharon – You always make my day when I read your columns. Thank you for saying what we Grammas love to hear and have experienced right along with you. God bless.

  8. Christine Hetherington says


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