In a few months, with God’s grace, I will reach a milestone I never dreamed of: I will turn 70. By most measures, I will have arrived at a place I only envisioned for others: Old Age. Next stop? The Twilight Zone.
All kidding aside, I’m happy to be where I am (after all, my dad died the day after his 55th birthday). It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure. There have been a lot of bumps in the road along the journey. But there have also been many, many high points. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t reflect upon the blessings heaped upon me, and thank God for them. Counted among those joys are my wife, my children, and my friends. Those are the most important of life’s gifts. Anything else is just frosting on the cake.
However, one thing that I’ve never understood is all the fuss made about the joy of being a grandparent. Most of my acquaintances of a similar age have experienced this phenomena, and never fail to regale me with the list of benefits that accompany their exalted status. It never ends.
The first is choosing a name by which they are singularly identified. It could be Grampy, Pop Pop, Opa, or even Poppy for the men. The ladies adopt such distinctive titles as Ma Maw; Grammy; Nana; or Grandma X, Y, or Z, in the cases where divorce and remarriage are involved.
Next come the little advantages of being a grandparent as opposed to being a mere parent. Here are a few of my favorites:
- “It’s really great. You can have them for an hour, a day, or a weekend, but you can always give them back to their parents whenever you want.”
- “You can feed them all the candy you like, and never have to worry about dealing with their sugar highs.”
- “You can spoil them rotten at Christmas or on their birthdays.”
Then, there are the fringe benefits. Grandparents get to go to all their grandkids’ games, plays, concerts, and dance recitals. They’re treated to their little loved ones’ handmade cards, cookies, and scarfs (some readable, edible, and wearable―some not). But it’s all good. And what grandparent doesn’t carry a wallet full of pictures—or an iPhone crammed with videos? It’s all part and parcel of the experience. Big deal! I just don’t get it.
Did I say “I just don’t get it”? Let me re-phrase that. I just didn’t get it—until the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 19, 2014. That’s when I became a grandparent for the first time, and life took on an entirely new meaning. I know it’s only been about two months, but believe it or not, it’s all becoming crystal clear. Now it’s me with the iPhone. It’s me with all the anecdotes. I’m the one with the permanent grin plastered across my face as I watch my granddaughter on FaceTime, while she wiggles in her crib to strains of a 50s rock ‘n’ roll song. At long last, it’s me who has finally become a grandparent.
Now, I get it!