, Newburyport, MA


June 13, 2013

Inheriting the role of grandfather


So I have vivid memories of these grandparents, which is what I hope to leave to my own grandsons. I have skied with the older two and been a spectator at their organized sporting events. With the youngest of the three, I read books and draw, plus watch his antics.

“Look, Grandpa!” is the sweet invitation to watch the ensuing goofiness, such as jumping off the couch. Grandparents are a step removed from discipline. That’s for parents. We get to spoil.

“I have no rules at my house,” says a friend. “If the grandkids want to have ice cream before dinner, we have ice cream. If they want to stay up late and go in the pool, we stay up late. If they want bacon for breakfast, we have bacon. I’ve told my daughters, ‘That’s the way it is.’”

Grandparents make grandchildren feel special.

Grandparents are also a link into the more distant past, to the family lore. I have a bounty of photographs and documents that the grandchildren may browse through in the future, but it’s the personal memories that are the strongest.

My grandfather let us paint his barn when we were little. He let us each “adopt” one of the dairy cows. He brought in a small workhorse for us to ride in the summer. He made us toys in his wood shop. He shared holidays with us. He attended our sporting events and school activities. He was, in short, a part of our lives.

I was thinking about all this the other day, and I remembered two of his familiar sayings. First, “If you always pick the worst apple from the barrel (before it goes bad and goes to waste), you’re always eating the worst apple.” Lesson: Don’t settle for less.

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