Delivering The Gift Of Sheer Joy

Kylie Rose Kekai'olaliuli Luat. Photo by Grandpa

Kylie Rose Kekai’olaliuli Luat. Photo by Grandpa

My life changed in a wonderful way Sunday, June 29, at 2:16 p.m., when Kylie Rose Kekai’olaliuli Luat entered the world — and I became a grandpa for the first time.

She is the daughter of my daughter Dawn and her husband Kalei Luat. (Longtime readers may recall reading about Dawn’s birth back in 1984 and her wedding two years ago this month.)

I’ve heard friends say that if they’d known how much fun it is to have grandchildren, they would have had the grands first. The moment I first held Kylie Rose, I instantly understood that sentiment. She’s amazingly beautiful, and I was just as instantly wrapped around her tiny little finger. I’d do anything for her.

She was born at Castle Medical Center in Kailua, which has a world-class birthing facility. I had not previously known this — it’s one of those details you don’t pay much attention to until you have to.

And I was pleasantly surprised to see how differently the post-birth process is from when Dawn was born. Then, I got to carry her from the delivery room — actually the Kapiolani hallway where she was born because we didn’t quite make it to the delivery room in time — up to the nursery, where I immediately had to hand her off to be put in a room full of bassinets and other babies.

With Kylie Rose, she and her parents returned to their room almost immediately after her birth. She was mostly cleaned off from the birth fluids, but not entirely. I arrived about 30 minutes after her birth, and found her in the arms of her daddy, and being cooed over by grandma Joslyn McLaughlin and Dawn’s “best friend cousin” Aulani Partika. Longtime friend Danielle Bishaw arrived soon with ahi poke, something Dawn had foregone for eight months and was craving.

I’d forgotten how tiny a newborn is, how fragile and vulnerable, and when Kalei placed her in my arms for the first time, well, I didn’t cry exactly, but my eyes went into non-stop misting mode. I’ve never before experienced such sheer joy. When Dawn and her brother Kai were born, there was joy, yes, but also the realization I would be responsible for them for 20 years or more.

It actually goes on beyond that, because you never stop being a parent, and over the past months since I learned Dawn was hapai, I’ve said as many prayers for a healthy baby as for a healthy daughter.

So this is different. Partly it’s knowing my genes and those of my ancestors carry on in her, and that we are a part of her.

She is certainly a part of me, and I’ve been sort of floating through life since I first met her.

About an hour after her birth, a group of Dawn’s nieces and nephews, ranging from elementary to high school, visited and were likewise awed by how small she is. When Dawn reminded them they had been that small once, they had a hard time imagining such a thing.

At one point, three men hovered protectively over Kylie Rose — Daddy, Grandpa and Dawn’s godfather Rick Ornellas.

This little girl is surrounded by so much love and support.

Her Hawaiian name, by the way, was created especially for her by Kalei’s sister Shea Ledbetter. The literal meaning is “the glistening deep blue sea when you go far, far out, and the sea is in its purest, most beautiful form, where it’s so peaceful.”

The kaona, or hidden meaning, represents the depth of Kalei and Dawn’s marriage, full of peace and beauty in its purest form. Shea said she kept coming back to this image and was even having dreams about it. And because she knew Dawn and Kai grew up close, she made his name part of it too.

Plus, Daddy is a surfer, and she will be a surfer girl soon enough.

It’s a beautiful name for a little girl who grows more beautiful every day. I’m looking forward to being her Grandpa and being part of her wonderful life.

Thank you, Dawn and Kalei.