Being grandpa

Today is the 11th anniversary of our becoming grandparents. We were older than some of our peers when our first child was born and our children were older than some of their peers when they became parents. While we are celebrating the 11th birthday of our oldest grandchild today, I have high school classmates who have attended the weddings of their grandchildren and some of them have become great grandparents. All of that is OK with me. It seems like the timing of us becoming grandparents was just right for our family. Our first grandchild came the same year that we became the oldest generation in our family. Both my mother and Susan’s father, who were previously widowed, died the year our grandson was born. It seemed to us like the natural passing of generations.

2011 was a full and hectic year for us. In addition to the memorial services for two parents and the birth of a grandchild, we had the wedding of our daughter. The church we were serving added a pastor that year, so there was more than a little bit going on in our lives.

Today is worthy of celebration for a lot of reasons. Eleven years later we now have four grandchildren. And it is looking like we will receive news of one more today, which means that in our son’s’ family the oldest and youngest will share the same birthday - 11 years apart. It also means that we will have 5 grands.

I’ve been keeping my phone close at hand, and so far, there is no news, but at bedtime last night, the contractions were regular and strong. Three of our grandchildren had supper at our home and are sleeping over with us to give their parents the space needed to deal with the arrival of the new one.

I’m not sure how I imagined being a grandfather would be, but for a long time before I became a grandfather, I thought that I would like to be one. The experience has not disappointed me in any way. I think I imagined that I would be retired and spending my days in the shop making toys while my grandchildren played with home made wooden blocks and I had the leisure to read as many stories to them as they wanted every day.

It isn’t exactly like that. I have to be up early this morning because I promised the kids they could have both pancakes and waffles for breakfast. It is, after all, the prerogative of a grandpa to spoil the kids just a little bit. And we need to have birthday candles on one waffle because, after all, it is a special day. But there won’t be time to linger over breakfast because we’ve got to get three kids ready and off to school on time with lunches in their backpacks and energy to get through a day at school. Less than an hour after they are off to school we have a meeting at work followed by a variety of different church events that last through the day ending with a Zoom adult class that will end around 8 pm. Somewhere in the day we’ll need to find time to go for a walk with the dog, feed dinner to everyone, have cake for the birthday party and allow some time for opening presents, and, of course, we’ll want to see that new baby as soon as possible. It could be a full day.

We have been talking about downsizing, and our home is roughly 1,000 square feet smaller than the home we had in Rapid City, but right now it feels pretty full. We’ve got people in all of the beds and a dog bed in our bedroom. Fortunately the dog is a pretty good sleeper. The kids are, too.

It is busy and it is a bit wild and it is really, really wonderful. I was right when I thought that I would enjoy being a grandfather. I really do. It makes sense because I enjoyed every stage of being a father. Except for one year when we had an exchange student living in our home, we only had two children and they were 2 1/2 years apart, so we never had the wider span of ages that we have with our grandchildren. The toys, books, and activities that entertain the 11-year-old are not the same as the ones that appeal to the 4-year-old. Next year there will be one middle-schooler, one elementary schooler, a kindergartener, and an infant. And our grandson in South Carolina will be a preschooler, so there will be five different personalities at five different stages of development, five different sets of interests, and probably five different favorite foods. I’m pretty sure that if we had all five at the same time, I could make grandpa’s pancakes go quite a long ways in making folks happy and ice cream for dessert is always a winner.

I grew up in a large family and having the beds full and the dog underfoot feels wonderfully familiar. To add to my sense of nostalgia, there is a local dairy where we get our milk in real, glass bottles that we return and our eggs come straight from the farm. I know it isn’t the same, but it makes me feel close to my parents, who juggled jobs and kids and house in a wonderful balancing act. So far, I have avoided dropping a bottle of milk and breaking the glass. I’m hoping to keep that record, but I can remember the time a bottle was shattered on the kitchen floor when I was a child. We are, all the same, pretty used to spilled beverages at dinner. I think I may be picking up speed with my rush to pick up the glass and toss in my napkin to stem the rush of liquid across the table.

Retirement is not what I expected, but I have to say it has been incredibly good to us. I’m healthy and happy and excited about getting up every day. And there is no way that February 9 won’t always be a special day in my life.

God is good all the time.
All the time, God is good!

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