My first born son is going to have his first born son. A momentous occasion that is not lost on me. Simply put, firsts are special.
At the birth of my first son I called my parents in Illinois the moment he was born in California to make the announcement that Caton Jay-William Vance had entered the world. My Mom cried. My Dad was proud. I hung up the phone and was overwhelmed with the responsibility that lay before me.
There is a long line of firsts in my family history: William Vance first came to America as a teen around 1732. His first born son was Joseph. They both fought in the Revolutionary War. Joseph built Vance’s Fort on the edge of the frontier which, at the time, was western Pennsylvania. Joseph’s first son was William who fought in the War of 1812. William’s first son was Joseph who stayed in western PA and had William who moved without immediate family to Illinois and fought in the Civil War. His first living son was Sherman who settled the Vance homestead in Hancock county. Sherman’s first son was William, my grandfather. William’s first son was Sherman, my father. Sherman’s first son was Robert, my brother. Robert’s first son was Randolph(Randy), my nephew and best friend as a young boy.
Rights and inheritances with the attached privilege used to transfer to the first born son. Nowadays things are distributed evenly. When I was little my nephew bragged that he was the first born son of the first born son of the first born son, etc. I thought that gave him some sort of privilege or at least an advantage. It didn’t. He eventually married and had one child, a son. I married and had 12 children with 8 of them boys.
Still, firsts are special. I remember a picture of my Dad holding up Randy in the air as a baby. Both of them are beaming in black and white. It was a great moment.
It’s the passing of everything that has happened to the next generation. It’s the glorious handoff. It’s an opportunity. It’s a chance to finally get it right. It’s the first time.
Just the other day I was daydreaming and I let my imagination go to the first time that I hear Kate and Caton’s boy call me “Grandpa”. I admit that I must’ve got something in my eyes right away because my vision went blurry.
I’ve only known Caton as a son. I will soon watch him be a father. But, maybe even bigger than that, I get to jump past that relationship and go straight to the next one. His son, my first grandson. He is his but he is also mine.
And I will lift him up.
So he can see where he came from.
And I will hand him to the one who came from me and he will show him where to go.
And I will watch.
And it be will my turn to beam.