As Bas and I came to be friends, the topic of each conversation inevitably returned to two things: his desire to see me succeed, and his love for his grandbaby. For nearly as long as I knew Bas, he either gave me a countdown of how long until the baby was expected (then the surprising news that the baby was a boy, after all) or a doting, completely irrational and so very Bas-like consuming love for this new little baby.
Everyone in blogland who has met Bas knows he had a variety of talents. His way of cutting to the center of the problem, dispelling with the murkiness, and using a touch of humor and wit to say hard truths. His various managerial and business/political life experience talents. His computer skills. But most of all, his capacity to love wholly and unselfishly.
The happiest I have ever known Bas was when he let me know about his grandson’s birth. He said he was telling me because he thought I’d like to know, and even if I didn’t want to know he would tell me anyway. As if I hadn’t been hoping and praying with him every single day that he would live long enough to see and hold his first grandchild! Baby “Pixel,” as Bas dubbed him, became the center of Bas’ world when he was put into his arms. In Bas’ announcement post, he said:
Our first grandson was born last Friday.
Yesterday, I have held him in my arms for more than an hour.
We’ve decided to remain friends for as long as we both shall live and then a bit more.
Bas and I discussed having him on Fika many times. Typical of Bas, he thought no one would be interested in what he had to say. Once he did become interested in visiting for Fika, his health no longer made that possible.
Instead of crying–I have done enough of that already, and I am sure everyone else has, too–today for Bas’ celebration Fika I want to remember Bas at his happiest. The moment he became an Opa (Dutch for grandfather).
I wrote this for Bas, and today for Fika I would like to share it with you. At the end is Bas’ response.
(Explaining it to Bas: It is what I felt when I saw you in the picture with Pixel. I hope he’ll forgive me for putting down what he might be thinking.)
To Opa, from Pixel
Dearest Opa in the entire world, you came to visit me. So much commotion and laughter and happiness! I didn’t know what to think when you pulled back my blankets and stared at me. Kept staring at me. Um, to be honest it made me a little uncomfortable. Do you know how big your face is? I tried to say hello to you, but you must not be very good at communication yet. You keep holding me and not saying anything. But I don’t understand why you seemed a little sad. How can you be sad when you come to see me? We are the best friends in the entire world, and we will be best friends for as long as we both shall live—and a little more. Remember, we promised each other that.
Maybe you feel a little sad because you’re not sure how long you’ll get to see me, or you’re not sure what will happen next. Maybe you wish that you were stronger and healthier so that you could run after me playing football and chasing butterflies.
But, Opa, I waited nine whole months to meet you! There was a while a month ago when I got really scared because I thought I might not get to meet you when I came out.
I might not be able to talk to you yet, but there are some things that a baby knows. We’re fresh from heaven, you see, so we have all the wisdom that older folks forget. I know, for example, from the touch of your big, strong finger in my fist that you are someone who loves much and hard and well. That you are someone who has been through difficult times, but that you try so hard to be brave and to help others.
I know, from the words that you whispered to me from your heart, that I am the most special and magical human being in the universe. That if someone wise and wonderful like you loves me, I must be worthy of that love. That I have an Opa who was so proud of me even before I was born that he shouted the news to the world in an online story on a blog, of a “granddaughter” named Pixel…with an inscription on a garbage can.
Um, Opa? I understand that you thought I was going to be a girl for a while, but why is my name on a garbage can in a girls’ college dormitory? And why do you have a garbage can named after you?
Opa, I might be just a few days old and so small that I can’t look at you properly or hold my head up, but I know these things.
Men are sissies. We hope to find women who like to get spanked, so we don’t have to get spanked ourselves.
That I have an Opa who has brought light and love to every life he has touched.
And that if I can grow up to be half as loving and compassionate as my Opa, I will consider myself blessed and lucky.
Much love to my favorite Opa,
(the cutest baby in the universe)
This is one of my favorite memories of Bas. What is yours?