My father never held me in his arms as a baby. At least that's what my Nanna once told me.
I had no clue whether it was true. It could have just been a rumor she picked up somewhere.
Maybe my father, then all of 25 years old and new to babies, felt uncomfortable holding his own first-born son in his arms. Maybe his own father never held him as a baby, either.
Maybe, too, my father worried he would hold me wrong or drop me. Maybe, given the times - this was the 1950s, after all - he believed holding a child, even his own, to be a chore unfit for a father, better for a mother, or any woman for that matter.
Then again, maybe my Nanna just never saw my father hold me. And maybe my mother never saw it, either, and so assumed it to be true. And told my Nanna, who then decided to tell me. So do rumors start, despite the utter absence of evidence.
Maybe, in reality, my father held me only when no one was around, when he knew no one would be looking. Maybe, in fact, he waited until my mother and my Nanna left the room, and only then, without a bossy, nosy mother-in-law around to tell him otherwise, he would hold me in his arms.
It could, perhaps, have happened late at night. My father would have sneaked over to my crib and marveled at the creature he helped create. Then, unable to resist the experience any longer, he would have gingerly picked me up and cradled me in his arms.
Given complete privacy at last, he would finally feel free to do as he wished. He would cuddle me and bring my face close to his and coo and pucker his lips until I smiled and stroke my cheek and whisper that he loved me with all his heart.
So I've believed all along. To be sure, whatever the era, men are always men. But so, too, are fathers always fathers.
Bob Brody, an executive and essayist in Forest Hills, blogs at letterstomykids.org.