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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Friday, October 14, 2011

Becoming Grampa and Gramma

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey
There are three distinct “highs” in the life of most adults.  There’s marriage, when you commit yourself, body and soul, toanother person for the rest of your life.  Then there’s the moment when you become parents.  There’s simply not another moment like the one when you hold a tiny infant in your arms for the first time and come face to face with the shocking realization that you are now a parent.  The sense of delight and wonder is balanced by the awesome responsibility you feel for the life of another human.
What follows are a couple of decades of barely-managed chaos and insanity as you strive to give to the world a hard-working contributing member of society.  Or, failing that, at least getting them to adulthood alive and without a rap sheet.  But eventually, they do grow to the point where they can stand on their own two feet.  As you watch them fly from the nest, there is a bit of a letdown.  The one thing that has been the purpose in your life is gone. 
What follows is a succession of days, weeks, and months you find out is that there’s no hobby, no career, no avocation that carries with it the same ecstatic highs, devastating lows, and meaning as raising children.
The hardest thing is that creeping sense that they don’t need you anymore.  The whole reason why you struggled through those child-rearing years was to make them independent.  But as time goes by and the phone stops ringing, and the frequency of mail falls off, it’s a hard feeling to shake.
But when disaster strikes, whether emotional, economic, or personal, you are the first ones they think of.  There will be a night when the rain is falling and you will hear a tentative knock on the door, and there on your doorstep they will be.  When the world has rejected them, turned them out into the night they know there is one place where they are still welcome; where they are still loved.
At some point, you will become aware that they have found someone special.  They may mention a name, but mainly you see that faraway look in their eyes, the faint smile.  And you remember what new love felt like.
The wedding is chaos, generating the kind of funny anecdotes that will delight Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings for decades to come. 
Then comes that special day when you become grandparents.
It may be a call in the middle of the night.  She’s in labor and we’re headed to the hospital.  All hope of sleep vanishes at this point and you crouch by the telephone like a couple of starved mountain lions, ready to pounce.  Woe betide any telemarketers who call during this vigil.
Finally the message comes through.  Across the miles comes the vital information, gender, weight, length, who does he/she look more like, how long was the labor.  Then you throw some things into a bag, get into the car and head for the hospital, wherever that is.  There is an urgency that drives you.  When our third grandson was born, I was not even 2 days out of surgery; yet I poured myself into the car and we made that three-hour trip to see the baby.
In that moment when you’re holding your grandchild for the first time, you realize how life has come full circle.  As your father and mother held you, and as you held your children, now you hold a new baby.  The wonder never goes away.  Here is a new life, embodying every ounce of hope you possess.
Our sun rises when we are born and sails across our sky through those long decades that follow.  But just as it begins to sink towards the horizon, here is this new bundle of joy who will bring a special kind of light to your life in the years you have left.  You will love them without limits and spoil them rotten.  Once again, you will go to innumerable games and concerts, each one as important as the World Series or a night at Kennedy Center.  You will watch them grow and learn, and pitch in, taking their tiny hand in yours as you reveal the world to their listening ears.
And no matter how bad a day you have, no matter how grumpy you may be, nothing raises you spirits and brings you joy more than the sound of that little voice…
“I love you , Grampa!”
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