February 7, 2008

Meet Stella Rose Jordan

Well, here she is. I guess all the prognosticators were right. (except Jessica)

Markana and I had our 18th-week visit this morning. We not only found out the sex, but that everything looks good, healthy and on track. A great relief.

For the first time, I was the nervous wreck and she was the calm one. For some reason, I started getting nervous last night and it carried over into this morning. Anyone who knows our story understands our worries to this point, but even though we're statistically in the clear, I found myself jittery and impatient. The first glimpse of the heartbeat settled me.

(yes, I hear the comments flooding in from the experienced, "It's your first of many worries for your child...")

So from here it's all pretty normal, I guess. Another simple check up in four weeks, and another ultrasound four weeks later. Can't wait to see her again.

scary face

little feet

February 2, 2008

Charles Finnigan, in memoriam

My Grandfather, Charles William Finnigan, died on December 13, 2007, and this recent weekend was spent in Orlando, Florida, at a memorial service honoring his life and our memories.

Problem is, I don't really have any.

I have memories of visiting when I was younger: a trip to Disney, paddle boat rides on the lake, early computer games, coy fish in his backyard pond, heat, seeing Saturn's rings through a telescope, swimming, fresh-squeezed orange juice. Only a couple of these really involved him.

It might have been because I was too young and he was getting to old. It might have been because I was somewhat of a reclusive child, perfectly content to find entertainment on my own and by myself. It might have been that my interests and his were too different, and as a child, there was no such thing as a respect for differences, especially for someone so greatly removed from my day to day life.

Many people spoke at today's service and referenced his warmth, his humor, his sharp mind, his never-ending interest in space, math, problem-solving — I do remember these in degrees. However, I never knew the man who taught children to ride bikes; who encouraged learning of all sorts, even when it meant supporting dreams unlike his; who, seemingly out of character, sent a bouquet of flowers to a lonely daughter on Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, I mostly remember a man I wasn't very close to. And now, as I find myself at a point where family, learning and career are my passions, I think I could've been.

There are some questions I'd ask:

How did a scientific man trained in electrical engineering, mixed with a passion for the cosmos, reconcile thoughts of a god and religion?
What motivated him to explore new careers, even after leaving the profession of engineering later in life?
What politics did he tend to follow or support? Why?
Did he consider himself successful?

This makes me think about the living family members I still have (which are many) and, of course, the one Markana and I are about to meet. Most of us live many miles apart and, for all I know, 'many miles' means physically and mentally.

But that's just it; "for all I know".

Truth is, I don't.

I had hoped today, as I looked for the last time at my grandparents' backyard, a yard that now holds the mixed ashes of two people who spent 50+ years at each others' sides, I'd find a sense of sentimentality and connection. I stood silent and alone after our private ceremony, waiting for at least a slight understanding of the thread between us.

It didn't happen.

But then, inside my Grandfather's house with my living family, looking through old photos, organizing the hopes of genealogy projects gone astray, eating the birthday cake of my youngest niece, playing card games, talking, laughing - I found it. The connection we don't enjoy often enough; the unbreakable bond in spite of the differences in our everyday lives, politics or beliefs; the simple enjoyment of each other's company; the honest love I hope for in my family-to-be.

So after many years of not really knowing the man we honored today, I realized that, to me, an understanding of his life can simply mean positively contributing to the thoughts and deeds of the family circle he helped create. I hope I always remember the effects of his efforts.