That title is not the usual saying, but in my case, it is right on the money. When my kids were born, I can honestly say that I loved absolutely every phase of their childhood, adolescence and now, adulthood. Don’t get me wrong, there were some rough patches along the way: tongue stuck to a street sign, hit by a truck, wild parties that were discovered after the fact, flooded bathrooms, but nothing that we didn’t get through in due course. Both kids ended up as fun, warm, loving, adults, great leaders and wonderful parents. They truly are the greatest and most rewarding part of my life.
Ten years ago, however, some things began to change. They had kids, and it was my chance to do it all over again! No one could ever have explained to me how challenging it would be to be a good parent, nor how incredible it would be to be an ornery and loving grandparent. It’s a feeling that is impossible to describe, and my view of it all is that I am literally getting to go around for the second time, but with a lot more gusto, more fun, less pressure, and all the love that I have in me.
The other day my six-year-old granddaughter said, “Poppa, how old will you be when I’m all grown up?” I turned to her and gently said, “Honey, how old am I now?” “If you add twenty or so years to that number, you’ll have a good idea how old I’ll be.” She concentrated heavily on the math, and finally I said, “Lucy, there’s more than a good chance that I’ll be gone by the time you’re all grown up.” She looked at me and with complete sincerity said, “Oh, Poppa that makes me sad.” To which I replied, “Baby, that makes me sad, too, but I’ll always be with you in your heart.”
Leaving at some point is actually part of the gig, and I truly want to leave them with good memories of me because we are all on the same train. We just get off at different stops. In my case with the age gap that existed between my grandparents and me, I feel blessed that I had any time with them at all. You see, my mom was the youngest girl of the eight siblings. My grandparents died when I was 5, 9, 13 and 26, but each one of them is still alive in me on so many levels.
The grandparent who is barely a memory for me was my mom’s dad. Even though I don’t remember him, my relatives tell me that I inherited his musical ability, his generosity, his smarts and his sense of style. (That dude was a sharp dresser!) From my mom’s mom, I acquired my ability to manage money, to appreciate sunsets, and to keep life simple. My dad’s mom was a loving person, but, my oh my, was she a worry wart! (What, me worry?) And finally, my dad’s dad was definitely the most socially liberal, the most fun, the most outrageous and the warmest. You see, with me, it’s like the old spaghetti sauce commercial: “It’s all in there,” and my relationships with all of them were incredibly important.
So, to the five little birds that are beginning to eye up the ground and think about flying, at least to the next branch, just take a minute to ask me. Let me help you avoid some of the mistakes and pitfalls that I’ve experienced. Let me teach you some short cuts and insist on the right long cuts. Let me tell you what is really fun and what is not, what is really important and what is not. Truthfully, I’ve been there, and I’ve done that, and, just like my grandparents before me, I’m only here to help.