This is about grandfathers. Seems random, I suppose. Actually it is not. I am going to be a grandfather. Our daughter, Heather Morris, is going to make Lisa and I grandparents in early April. We have been skyping to see her little belly get a little bigger each week and though we are not there with her – we are still very excited. The thought of being a grandparent is both exciting and a little eye-opening in that it makes Lisa and I feel sort of – well – old. Now that is not a bad thing – getting older brings with it many benefits. Very soon I will be able to get the senior discount on coffee at McDonalds. Which would be great except I don’t drink coffee. There are plenty of other benefits about getting older – I’m sure of it – give me a minute, hmm, well I’ll think of some eventually.
But as I said this is about grandfathers. I want to be a good one. “Granddaddy”, as we called him, was my mom’s dad and he and our grandmother (who we called “Bop-Paw” – something we must have called her when we were learning to talk which is fine if you are five years old – but gets a little weird calling someone “Bop-Paw” when you are twenty-six) lived in Sturgis Kentucky where we spent a great deal of time as kids growing up. Unfortunately my dad’s parents died early in life and I was unable to know either.
But my grandfather taught me some things about being a grandparent. He was a man of God, a proud deacon of the Baptist church for sixty plus years and when church was open – he was there. I loved visiting my grandparents and though they never owned a home of their own (always rented) it sure felt like home and a welcome place to be. He had a great sense of humor but he was a gentle man, content to sit on his front porch and listen to St. Louis Cardinal baseball games on his radio or sit on a lake bank and fish with a simple cane pole. He loved music and his voice could be heard above every other voice in church. I could always know he was approaching because he was always singing. He loved his wife, he loved his little town of Sturgis and he loved me.
I am fairly certain that my granddaddy did not learn how to be a good grandfather in school. He did not even graduate high school and I’m almost certain the subject never came up during his grade school days. My bet is he learned about being a grandfather from his grandfather. Likewise my education had nothing to say about the subject of grandparenting. So Lisa and I are on our own. All we know is what our parents and grandparents taught us – not in their words – but in their actions. From my perspective grandparenting is an action verb (“Boy, we ‘grandparented’ today”). The memories of my grandparents were about what they did – not so much what they said. My grandfather took me fishing, sang in the church choir, took me to baseball games, did things. My hope is that I can “do” grandparenting” as good as my grandparents did.
The other example of being a grandfather in my life comes from Lisa’s dad, Vernon. Like myself growing up, our children have only known one grandfather. My dad passed away right after Heather was born and Justin was too young to really remember him. Vernon has been a tremendous example of a grandfather “doing” things with their grandkids. Bobbie and Vernon have both done grandparent things with our kids all their lives and for that we are forever grateful. It has been comforting to know they had them in Owensboro while Lisa and I have been away. My kids have learned that they can call on “Pap-Paw” if they need something and in my lifetime – I can never remember him being out of patience or time. Both these men displayed wisdom to me in ways I never found in any text-book or college class. If anything I find myself envious of them. What I would not give for Vernon’s patience and people skills and my grandfather’s sense of contentment. I think of them and how they live their lives and want to ask for a refund on some of that college tuition. There is not a text-book in the world that can teach that.
So now we are in a period of waiting – our own little ‘advent’ of our first grandchild. It is really exciting and God has been good to allow Heather and James this blessed opportunity to raise a child and for Lisa and I to be its grandparents.
We have much to learn about being grandparents. Like parenting – most will be learned as we go. But at least we have our parents and grandparents blueprint to follow.
Hope to see you soon!
Steve and Lisa