, Newburyport, MA


June 13, 2013

Inheriting the role of grandfather

I am acutely aware of the ticking of the clock as I age at one end of the life spectrum and my three young grandsons grow at the other.

What will they remember of me?

My own paternal grandfather died when I was 6, so I have only a vague recollection of him. My maternal grandfather, however, lived until I was sophomore in college. He lived to an age that my brain had developed to the point of fondly remembering him. Whatever that point in time was, I’m not sure, but it was certainly after the age of 6.

So I try to eat sensibly and I exercise daily with a walk and a bicycle ride so as to stay healthy enough to interact with my own grandsons, aged 8, 7 and 2. There’s no guarantee that diet and exercise will lead to longevity. Fluke things can happen, as with an accident or a catastrophic disease, but why not try?

Shortly after I was born, my father shipped out to the Pacific for WWII duty. So did an uncle, who left behind infant twins. My mother and my aunt, together with we three infants, moved to my grandparents’ farm in northern Vermont. My grandfather did the barn chores in the early morning, went to work as the manager of the Carey Maple Sugar factory in St. Johnsbury during the day, came home to spend some time with three grandchildren, then did the barn chores late in the evening. I reflect in awe at that energy and resolve that would have entailed.

As pre-teens we spent glorious summer vacations on a subsequent farm in Lyndonville, and in my teen years my grandparents lived in an upstairs apartment over my parents’ home in Athol after the farm grew to be too much for them to manage. My grandfather then started a real estate business, grooming my mother for her eventual career.

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