I must admit my wife, Kathy, and I got a rather late start on filling the role of grand parenting. We weren’t married until our late twenties, and, then, each of our three sons were in their late twenties and early thirties before they became fathers. Many of our contemporaries had great-grandchildren by the time we experienced grand parenting.
Our oldest granddaughter turned six (6) this July just past. So here we are with seven under the age of six.
The eldest, Oakley Madison, is by most definitions, a “girly girl.” The next one, Elizabeth Jane, is a self-proclaimed, “cowgirl.” Number three, we call Lena Kate (Her name is Lena Katherine, but Lena Kate fits her better.) She’s a little “fire cracker.” (Her Uncle Joseph affectionately calls her the “buzz saw.”) This girl has a smile that can light up a room! Next, is Jack Harvey (Harvey). I think he is going to be “the strong, silent type.” Jared Manning (J. Manning) is next. He’s a grinner. My late mother who was known for giving grandchildren nicknames would have given him the Indian name “Smiles a Lot.” And then, we have the twins. Born almost two months early on June 20, Whitman Brim (Whit) and Amelia Rose (Millie) weighed in at 3 Lbs.11 oz. and 3 lbs. 2 oz., respectively. Each spent a few weeks in the NICU unit at St. Thomas Mid-town. Their full-term date came just two weeks ago. At the last official weigh in, Whit topped 8 lbs. and Millie weighed almost 7 lbs. All seven are doing well. We are blessed.
I take the role of grandparent very seriously as each of my grandparents had a profound influence on my life.
My maternal grandfather, Will Herod Brim, next to my parents, was the most influential person in my life. He died when I was twelve years old. But his impact on my life in those few years is incalculable. I think of him so very often.
My maternal grandmother, Lena Bradford Brim, was widowed for over 30 years. And for most of those years she lived alone. I spent countless nights at her house over the years where I enjoyed many a meager meal at her table. Supper usually consisted of peas and carrots, a small piece of country ham, a stewed potato or two, and dry toast. I recall those simple meals with great fondness.
My paternal grandmother, Amy Manning McCall, was the sweetest, kindest, most gentle person I have ever known. She enjoyed few luxuries in her life. But I surmised she had one luxury when I was a boy – an open account at the grocery store. And she took advantage of it. At least, I thought so. Back in those days the grocery store delivered to your home. Granny Amy made sure there were plenty of Sugar Smacks, Sugar Pops, and Frosted Flakes in her cupboard when her grandchildren visited. And she always had the milkman from Johnson’s Dairy deliver chocolate milk right to her door. Now, that was real chocolate milk! Those quart, glass bottles yielded the thickest, tastiest chocolate milk one could imagine. I have never tasted any better.
My paternal grandfather, David Thomas (D. T.) McCall was the consonant salesman. If ever I met a man who exemplified a “can do” attitude it was him. He was upbeat, optimistic, and as tough as nails. He taught me much about the business world.
My friend, fellow southern humorist and grandfather, Dr. Charles Petty, shared this story with me in what seems not so long ago:
“Do you know what I did Saturday? He asked.
“I have no idea,” I responded.
“I rode the escalator at the mall up and down twenty-seven times!” he continued.
“Do you know why?”
“You’ve got me.” I said.
“Because my two-year-old granddaughter, Mary Kathryn, wanted to!” he went on. “Every time we reached the bottom she would pull on my finger and say ‘Do it again, Papa!’ And, so, we did it again! Twenty-seven times we went up and down!”
Then he smiled a grandfatherly smile.
“Do you know why I chose to spend my time riding the escalator at the mall rather than working in the yard or working on my old truck Saturday?” he asked.
“I have an idea, but you tell me,” I responded.
“Mary Kathryn will only be two-years-old this year. Next year she will be three, and then, four. And the day will come when she won’t have time for me. But Saturday, at the mall, was our time!”
I spoke with Dr. Petty again, quite recently.
“How old is Mary Kathryn now “I asked.
“She’s thirteen!” he answered. “I saw her at church Sunday. She was with some of her little friends, two girls and a boy. She smiled and waved – too busy for me!”
I thought of that escalator, and how windows of time close so quickly. And I recalled the words of a song. “Turn around and you’re two. Turn around and you’re four. Turn around and you’re a young man (or woman) going out of the door.”
Grandchildren. Better love them while they’re little. They won’t forget!
Copyright 2016 by Jack McCall