Blessings and New Birth

This morning my first grandchild was born—a little girl with thick red lips, curious blue eyes, a curly cap of black hair and a surprisingly even temperament that accommodated two sets of grandparents, two uncles and an aunt all hugging, kissing and passing her around within an hour of her appearance in the world.

Everyone in the family is now napping, having had either a sleepless or restless night while the mother (and father) labored towards birth. But I am wide awake and making an effort to record this moment and also to fill this sultry afternoon while I wait to return to see the child. Outside the temperature swelters above 100, then suddenly the clouds open and rain streams down on the earth. Just as suddenly the sun reappears, still a torch in the sky, but it is cooler now.

While everyone sleeps, I turn to the July blog post I’d intended to write today. I’d been collecting scraps of ideas and clippings for two possible directions for this month’s post, both focused on the wider world. One was to respond to a request for participation in a new project, a blog entitled “Drafting a New Story: Women’s Rights in the Middle East.” Another was a post tentatively titled “Imagining Cuba,” where the promised release of 52 dissidents has stirred some hope for an easing of rights in that country though the releases are conditioned on the prisoners leaving Cuba. Still, the first prisoners, many of whom are writers, have made their way to Spain and to freedom. One recently wrote in The New York Times, “I never imagined I would be born at the age of 60, at an altitude of several thousand feet above the Atlantic. That isn’t gibberish; it’s what I felt when I was released from jail in Cuba and exiled to Spain last Monday.”

The birth of a child brings one’s focus intensely close and personal and at the same time extends it outwards, straining towards the universe and the universal, towards the hope for future generations. Birth and rebirth, the ever present possibility of a new story, the ascendency of human potential and freedom—it is a potent and motivating reason to get up each day, to reach out to one’s fellow human beings each day, to put one foot and one word after the other.

This blessing I wish for little Carolina—that is the name I gave my granddaughter when I didn’t know her name because for a while her parents had lived in the Carolinas. (I’ll keep her real name private for her to use.) May she add her even temperament, her balanced judgment, her fairness, her intelligence and her compassion to this sometimes troubled world of ours.
–July 25, 2010


  1. Maryann Macdonald on July 26, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    What wonderful news! Always seems like such a miracle…those toes, those eyelashes. Enjoy every minute, and congratulations to all. xom

  2. Deena Patriarca on July 26, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    What wonderful news! Blessings were certainly raining down yesterday…”the child who is born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe and good and gay”…and overwhelmingly loved. My prayers are with all, especially the new mom and dad!

  3. Mary Kay Zuravleff on July 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    What happy news and I completely agree that babies focus you in and out simultaneously. So glad all are thriving!

  4. Sara Whyatt on July 27, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Wonderful, wonderful news. Congratulations. I am looking forward to seeing the photos!

  5. Robin Wright on July 27, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Wonderful blog – and an insight into the past two history making days for your family.

  6. Jane Schubert on July 27, 2010 at 9:47 am

    God’s blessing on this new life — a “baby woman” to whom much will be given and much expected.  It’s a joy-filled event and I join you in giving thanks!
    Jane Schubert (grandmother of two!)

  7. Barbara and John on July 27, 2010 at 9:47 am

    What wonderful news for you and your family!  We send you all our very best wishes.
    Barbara and John

  8. Carolyn S on July 27, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Congratulations, Dear Joanne!
    It’s a lovely feeling, isn’t it?

  9. Didi Cutler on July 27, 2010 at 9:48 am

    How very, very exciting. Congratulations to you and love from Walt & Didi. Send pictures! Cheers, Didi

  10. Franca Tiberto on July 27, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Merci Joanne. Good luck and happy days. franca

  11. Elliot Figman on July 27, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Dear Joanne,
    What a lovely, moving blog post to announce the birth of “Carolina.”
    Congratulations  and all good wishes for much
    joy with your new granddaughter.
    My best,

  12. Jackson Bryer on July 27, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Congratulations! Grandchildren are THE BEST! Jackson

  13. Julia Malone on July 27, 2010 at 9:51 am

    What an interesting weather day for little “Carolina” to make her appearance!  I am so happy for you and imagining many happy special times that the two of you will share! 
    Much love,

  14. Ellen Joseph on July 27, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Congratulations! Much joy in your new role as a grandmother.  All best wishes. Ellen

  15. Steve Isenberg on July 27, 2010 at 9:52 am

    My brother had his first grandchild the other day not long ago so this kind of musing and happy music is still in the air around me. (Our son got married last year, but only a dog has been added to their domestic front). I wish you and yours, and Carolina, as you dubbed her, all the blessings and joys that you wrote of and must have in mind for her. And those that, as you said, she’ll bring into the world in her time and way.
     Congratulations and cheers, Steve

  16. Sibila Petlevski on July 27, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Dear Joanne, 
    I am happy for you and your family! 
    Best from Sibila 

  17. Susan M on July 27, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Well, I suspect the joy you are feeling at this moment is overwhelming. I am so thrilled for you both! While I hope it is years (YEARS) before either Sam or Francesca make us grandparents, we very much look forward to spoiling them in the way I suspect you will, as well.  Congratulations to you.  With love. Susan

  18. Deborah Ashford on July 27, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Congratulations, Joanne!! Your post is beautiful, and I am sure your grand-daughter is too. What a blessing–without these moments, how would we go on? Enjoy them.
    –Deborah Ashford

  19. Kjell Olaf on July 27, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Congratulations, Joanne!
    Warm regards from
    Kjell Olaf

  20. Willee Lewis on July 27, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Hello—– tell us more…..what gender? what name?  weight?   etc??
         So happy for you & Peter……from one old granny….to another!!
            Mazel Tov! wl – xoxo

  21. Kitty Davis on July 27, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Congratulations on your new granddaughter!  What a joyous moment and a wonderful essay to honor her arrival.
    All best,

  22. Vjollca on July 27, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Congratulations!!! What wonderful news on your little Carolina. May she live a happy and healthy life, surrounded by love and giving love.

  23. Susan and Katie on July 27, 2010 at 9:59 am

    How exciting!! Congratulations!  Hopefully, we’ll get to see pictures 
    Love to you both – and to the rest of your growing family.
    Susan and Katie

  24. Moris Farhi on July 27, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Congratulations on the new addition to your family! And congratulations, too, for an excellent blog.

  25. Susan Osnos on July 27, 2010 at 10:00 am

    What lovely news about “Carolina!”. We have 3 grandchildren now, and they are truly one of the great blessings of our lives.

  26. Lucina Kathman on July 27, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Oh, many congratulations! I knew you were hoping for something like this to happen, even though you never said it. And a cheerful little girl, that is even better.  Love Lucina

  27. Eric Lax on July 27, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Hey, congratulations and every possible warm wish to your family. Wonderful and very happy news. Fond regards,  Eric (got the email just as boarding a plane. As usual for us both!)

  28. Susan Shreve on July 27, 2010 at 10:04 am

    oh so many congratulations Joanne to all of you. love, susan

  29. Galen Williams on July 27, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Congratulations!   That is wonderful news.  I now have 3 1/2 with the other 1/2 coming Oct. 5. They make all the difference,  Love, Galen

  30. Joyce B on July 27, 2010 at 10:05 am

    What a joyous moment! Congratulations on the birth of your granddaughter. I wish her a happy, healthy life—and she’s certainly a lucky girl to have you as a grandmother.
    I thought your blog was lovely. Yesterday Steve and I went to a service in Florida for his folks who died within the year. They received military honors (both served in World War II.) Their great grandson (who is almost two) was there-and through the somberness and seriousness of the tribute, his sweet outbursts helped remind us all of life and hope. Somehow they do make the universe look better.
    Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy—as I am sure you will. (And do let me know her real name.) 
    Best always,

  31. Faye Moskowitz on July 27, 2010 at 10:05 am

    It’s simply the best!  Good wishes to all! 

  32. Susan Jones on July 27, 2010 at 10:05 am

    It is a transforming experience… to think of the cycle repeating itself.. is very renewing for all..
    This to me is the ultimate parent payoff.. the best club I have ever joined.

  33. Judith Rodriguez on July 27, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Lucky lady! Congratulations, all! And may this little girl have a fortunate life, surrounded by affection and able to develop in every way she needs. This is beautiful news. – Judith

  34. Annie Lee on July 27, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Congratulations!!! 🙂   I loved reading your blog, how exciting to have a new granddaughter in the family.  Can’t wait to see pictures of little Coco.

  35. Krishen Mehta on July 27, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Congratulations, Joanne and Peter. What a blessing! Your blog about the birth of Carolina sums the hope we all have for a better world.
    Geeta and I are in Istanbul at present and send our greetings. With best regards, Krishen

  36. Henry Babcock on July 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    congratulations, Joanne, on the birth of ‘Carolina’. You cannot
    imagine how wonderful it is to have grandchildren. There is the
    combination of hope, that you mention, and your own rebirth as you
    relearn how to see through a child’s eyes. Enjoy it.

  37. Sue Gail Spring on July 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Congratulations and much love to little “Carolina” and her large and loving family. She is one lucky little girl to be surrounded by such love and care. Looking forward to meeting her!
    Sue Gail

  38. Michele on July 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    My sincere congratulations!  What  a wonderful time for your family!  best wishes and have fun being a grandmother!  Michele

  39. Mary on July 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Joanne – You’ve proven that words can indeed express the most profound hope and happiness. Congratulations to the whole family.

  40. Ronny Stoddart on July 27, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    What wonderful happy news! Congratulations to you and Peter and the whole family. Grandchildren are such a special treat. Enjoy every minute.

  41. Bill W on July 28, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Welcome to the world, Carolina. We need you.
    What exciting news. Congratulations. Now you can do this again, but this time with experience, with a girl and with the right to go home and
    sleep at night.

  42. Steve S on July 28, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Nina and I were so pleased to hear of the birth of your grand-daughter.  You are embarking on a great adventure, and knowing you, I  bet that you will make the most of it.
    Please send everyone my very best wishes and fond regards as well.

  43. Roxana on July 28, 2010 at 9:53 am

    What wonderful news! I’m so happy for all of you. Thank you so much for telling me. You’ll have such delight in getting to know Carolina. Congratulations and warm best wishes,

  44. Lee L on July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am

    So happy for you :))
    Please send them my love. Lee

  45. Gareth on July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Congratulations grandma — I have number four on its way later today! They are wonderful.

  46. Trudy R on July 28, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Congratulations! That is great news!

  47. Lori B on July 28, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Carolina sounds like pure bliss and joy and beauty. Enjoy.

  48. Roxanne Richards on July 28, 2010 at 9:58 am

    I just got back from having lunch with Samantha, my grand daughter,and I was feeling a little sad about her leaving for college,when I got your blog.My heart filled with joy at your news.You now have the frosting on the cake,just thinking about how the family was kissing and holding this tiny child made me feel better. Enjoy every second of your time with her,it goes so fast.
    Please give Mom and Dad my love,I am so happy for all of you.

  49. Eugene Schoulgin on July 28, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I want to welcome your grand child to our troubled, but wonderful world, and I am happy on your behalf and wish you and your family all the very best!

  50. Caroline McCormick on July 29, 2010 at 9:48 am

    My congratulations to you and your family on your grand daughter’s arrival. I am sure she is every bit as delightful as her name. I am sending you my very best wishes.

  51. Kate Blackwell on July 29, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Many many best wishes for your family on the birth of your granddaughter. Nothing surpasses the miracle of birth and, as you put it, the hope for the future that it raises. Birth is happening all the time but each time seems a unique opportunity, like a new day. 
    many smiles, 

  52. Beverly Campbell on July 29, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Coco is sooooooooooooooo beautiful!  I know how thrilling it is to hold your own precious grandchild.  Your blog was delicious.

  53. David and Isobel on July 31, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Great news!! Congratulations to you and the new parents. The family expansion will enrich all your lives — and keep them happily busy, as we have been reminded this summer with all three of our girls and their families visiting (some almost living!) with us at our house on Long Lake, including all six grandkids. May you have joy… and fun!
    All best,
    David and Isobel

  54. Frazier O'Leary on August 1, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Welcome to the wonderful world of grandparenthood where you can take them to somebody else’s house and get a full night’s sleep.

  55. Shelley on August 2, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Although Bob and I are not yet grandparents, we are enjoying getting glimpses of this next phase of life through friends like you who get there before us. We’re thrilled for your expanding family and the new joys both your daughter-in-law and granddaughter will bring all of you. I would never have guessed all those years ago when your two boys and my kids played together, that yours would be the first to be a parent. I know he’s ready for this next adventure.
    Love, Shelley

  56. Chiara Macconi on August 5, 2010 at 5:07 am

    Congratulations Joanne,
    a new child is a whole novel to be born!
    And glad you are part of us grandmas with still a lot to do for their future.

  57. Lynnette Meglio on October 27, 2010 at 7:47 am

    I was very happy to see this site. I wanted to thank you for this well written article and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

  58. Andrew Pelt on November 14, 2010 at 11:30 am

    The purpose in life is to touch others. Some may come and stay, some may go. But it is always for a reason. Live life, laugh and love strongly.

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