Grateful for Grandfathers

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Callister loves to hike with his granddad, but the hike often ends with Callister on his granddad’s shoulders.

My grandkids are in a granddad phase where my husband is the clear favorite. Or am I fooling myself, and it’s not a phase? Maybe he is just the chosen one? Because it’s November, the month we focus our thoughts on gratitude, my daughter begins every day by asking our grandson what he’s grateful for that day. Callister has remained steadfast in his answer of “Granddad” every day. Despite doing 90% of the work, do I even get a shoutout? Not a chance. I’m the reliable person who bakes cookies, reads books and is called on to help out in the bathroom. I’m the bottle washer, the diaper changer, the bag packer. I do all the boring but necessary jobs. Grandad is the excitement, a celebrity rock star in the world of young grandchildren.

I can’t blame my grandkids for favoring my husband. He is a lot of fun. I categorize people into Winnie the Pooh characters, and in that framework, my husband is a Tigger. He’s bouncy, pouncy, and fun, fun, fun. He’s full of energy and happiness, agilely climbing playground structures, playing wild games of chase and hide and seek with the kids, and tirelessly pushing them in swings.  He effortlessly hoists them high on his shoulders as if they are light but valuable packages of joy. Is it any wonder four-year-old Callister and one-year-old Sylvia light up when their granddad walks into the room? Children know when they are loved, and there is nothing quite like the undiluted pleasure of a grandfather’s delight in his grandchildren.

Grandfathers and grandchildren seem to have a natural affinity for one another. Sharing a similar sense of humor seems to be a common occurrence with grandfathers and young grandchildren. My four-year-old grandson is the perfect audience for his granddad’s corny jokes and puns, laughing at my husband’s jokes over and over again. (The ones that get eye-rolls from me.) In return, our grandson gives my husband an excuse to indulge himself in play. The two of them spend hours constructing Lego towers that reach the ceiling and pretending the floor is made of hot lava.  It’s been said that “Grandfathers are just antique little boys,” and there is some truth in that anonymous quote. Beyond being a lot of fun, grandfathers are also a source of wisdom, love, and stability for grandchildren. It’s a mutual admiration club from which both generations reap limitless benefits.

My grandfather has been gone for over thirty years, but he left memories imprinted on my heart. There’s a scent I can still conjure up when I close my eyes and think of my grandfather. As a child, I knew that specific smell meant my adored grandfather was near. As an adult, I know it was the smell of wintergreen Skol and wheat dust, two things that are not very desirable, but to me, it will always be the fragrance associated with a grandparent’s love. He was a Kansas wheat farmer, a salt-of-the-earth type, always dressed in overalls and a cap to ward off the sun. His rosy cheeks embraced a perpetual smile sure to erupt into laughter at any minute. As a teenager, I overheard my grandfather tell my mother that no boy was worthy of me, a statement I would have bristled at if my parents had said. Expressed by my grandfather, the sentiment felt like a treasure to hold close to my heart. I felt cherished. Grandfathers have a way of making grandchildren feel special, and it seems grandchildren repay that favor without even trying.

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I’ve forgotten so much about my grandfather, but I remember the feelings.

To further cement the bond, our grandchildren strongly resemble my husband. It seems everywhere we go, people comment on the similarities. My husband and grandchildren have bright blue eyes and share a dimple in the same spot, on the left side of their smiles. The grandkids don’t look even a tiny bit like me, but the irony here is that my husband is not their biological grandfather. We married when my kids were eleven and twelve, so it is only a coincidence of love that the grandkids look like my husband. I knew my husband would be a wonderful father to my daughters, but at the time, I never could have imagined how he would one day be the beloved grandfather to our grandchildren. And they have become ours– the children and the grandchildren. We have almost forgotten it didn’t start this way.

I may sound a little jealous, but I promise I’m not. I honestly love watching the bond between my husband and grandkids grow. Seeing him interact with the grandkids makes me fall a little more in love with him and makes our marriage even stronger. How can I not love watching my husband playing games and jumping on the trampoline with our grandson? How can I not melt just a little as our one-year-old granddaughter tests out her newly discovered walking legs by toddling over to her grandad with her arms outstretched and a big smile on her face? Being grandparents together is a form of romance I never expected, but one I treasure more than diamonds or roses (although I’m open to those also). So when my grandchildren claim their granddad as their favorite, I understand. I kind of feel the same way.

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Sylvia loves her granddad, and I’m pretty sure the feelings are returned!

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Categories: Grand Life