Granddad Will Be a New Dad at 67Jun 15th, 2011 | By Ron DeLacy | Category: Fanfare
I’m 67, a widower, father and grandfather and a survivor of shingles, bad knees, periodontal disaster, hypertension and cancer, not to mention exposure to other dangers of my age and era from the Vietnam War to LSD to homophobia, the latter only because I choose to cruise these hills in the pink Miata that I gave my wife and later inherited.
Maybe it’s time to slow down.
Wait, no, maybe it isn’t, because here comes another new adventure, or rather a reprise of an old one. And this promises to be a long-term adventure – as long as whatever term I have left, that is.
I am going to be a father.
I don’t mean I’m going into the priesthood, as if it would have me. We are talking here about father as in lower-case father, which I already have been for more than 30 years. I am going to be a father again.
Father as in daughter due in September.
Did I mention that I’m 67?
Friends and family members have consistently tendered their tenderest congratulations right after they have picked themselves up from the floor. I jotted down some of their opening lines:
JOHN, a brother: “You are [expletive deleted]-ing me.”
RICHARD, a friend: “You gonna name her Viagra?”
MARY, a neighbor: “Oh my God. Oh my God.
MARTY, a former co-worker: “Are you sure?”
MACEJKO, my daughter: “What?”
MAX, my son: “That’s big.”
SUZY, my editor: (See MARY, above.)
But yes, it’s true, and after weeks and then months of reflecting, disbelieving, agonizing, second-guessing, third-guessing and more reflecting, I land here:
When our daughter is born, her mother – my partner Lisa – will be 46. As far as I can tell from Internet research, the odds against her becoming a parent at her age were longer than mine at mine. But we’re not breaking any new ground for men over 60 or for women over 40. Try Googling “famous old fathers” and “famous old mothers,” and here’s some of what you get:
- Tony Randall was a father at 76 and at 78.
- Saul Bellow was 85.
- Actress Jane Kaczmarek had babies at 42, 44 and 47.
- Cheryl Tiegs had twins at 52.
More troublesome Web searches coupled “aging parents” with “abnormalities.” I went there even though I don’t like horror movies, and I found some pretty unsettling stuff. I learned, for instance, that men in their 50s and 60s are 10 times as likely to carry and pass along something called Apert syndrome, a form of something called acrocephalosyndactylia, a mutation that fuses bones in babies’ heads, hands and feet.
Whoa. That had me sweating pretty good and contorting my face, too, and I chose not to avail myself of the illustrations, but calm down here a second while we do some math. For children with younger dads, the incident rate is one in 70,000. So for us older dads it’s one in 7,000. Those are pretty long odds. There is an excellent chance that my daughter won’t be born with fused bones in her head, hands and feet.
I’m opting to omit any more excerpts from abnormality Internet pages except this one from Jack O’Sullivan, co-founder of a British organization called Fathers Direct. Mr. O’Sullivan argued that the advantages to late fatherhood outweigh the disadvantages:
“Research shows that old fathers are three times more likely to take regular responsibility for a young child…. They behave more like mothers, smiling at the baby and gurgling –although young fathers are probably better at getting down on the floor for physical play.”
I take heart there, and furthermore I honestly don’t intend to take a back seat to any father at getting down on the floor for physical play. I don’t get up from a floor exactly lickety-split anymore, but I can get down to one as fast as I ever could, sometimes without even trying.
OK, I’ll be serious here for a paragraph. We know this comes with assorted risks. To become prepared for extra needs or to allay our apprehensions, we’ve gone through some tests involving the fetus’s chromosomes.
So far, so healthy for Lilian Louise Folsom DeLacy.
I think we’ll call her Lily.
Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go practice my gurgling.
Ron DeLacy is a musician (Doodoo Wah) and retired reporter and editor for the Modesto Bee, along with five other daily newspapers earlier in his career. Contact him at email@example.com.
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