Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thoughts on Becoming a Grandpa

Chicago gains a new citizen (KF, 2011)

Early on Monday morning Chicago grew greater by one soul when our new granddaughter, Madelyn Jane, took her first breath.  The city looked beautiful before, but it’s amazing how much more beautiful it has become with the addition of just one new citizen.

Life also became immeasurably richer for Jill and me as we became grandparents for the first time.  We’ve been waiting patiently for Maddie, and, I suppose, waiting patiently for a new whole phase of our lives to begin.  Now that she’s here . . . well . . . we’re about as happy as two folks have a right to be.

Coming to grips with the fact that I am a grandfather is a notion with which I am still tinkering.  Like most things this is just one more part of life’s long symphony of opposition.  

With the bright promise of a future defined by this new life there is some thought of the years that are now gone dark.  With the great joy of being a grandpa comes the undeniable realization that I am grown to an age where I now really am a grandpa. I trust that the pain in these old knees will disappear completely when I first stand behind a stroller out for a walk with precious little Maddie.

And Maddie will learn over time that just because Ryan Dempster pitched his heart out on the day she was born and the Cubbies bagged a 1-0 win against Prince Fielder and the first-place Brewers, it’s no guarantee that she’ll see the team do any better than her dad or her granddads have.

It’s funny . . . I was just talking to some old friends the other day, and I told them that one fine, crisp August day in 1967 I felt like I might be the first person in the world to live forever.  The last year of high school was just ahead, I was in love with the woman I would eventually marry, and  “Brown Eyed Girl” was playing on the radio of my parents’ 1966 Malibu.

To this day I remember thinking on that sunny summer’s day, “This has to go one forever.  How could it not?”

But at some point in life you begin to realize that it won’t go on forever and that the music one day will stop and the sunny days will end.

What you have left – after the family has been raised, after the job has been completed, after the hectic, worrisome, often exhilarating race across adulthood’s sea ends at AARP’s calm, little harbor – are three things.

First, that maybe, just maybe, one day before the sun goes down for the last time the Cubbies will kick the goat out of Chicago and win the World Series, preferably by beating St. Louis in the Divisional Series and the White Sox in game seven of the championship. 

Secondly, that everybody’s right about this Heaven thing and that the Yellow Brick Road leads to something so mysteriously beautiful that you don’t even miss Costco.

But most importantly, there is the thought that a part of you lives through the lives you have touched.  Jill and I are lucky.  We raised two daughters who make us proud every single day.  We’ve got a great son-in-law who will be a supportive and nurturing hero of a father to this beautiful girl.

We didn’t know anything about being a parent when we started out; none of us do.  But we did the best we could, and despite our steep learning curve, Kristen and Kimberly not only survived, they ended up bright, independent and funny.

And now Kimberly and Ryan have given us a new opportunity to go at it.  That’s the great promise of the future . . . to see this little five-pound gem grow into a woman ready to dazzle the world.   The great promise – love and family and seeing it all through with courage, commitment and compassion.  Now little Maddie is here to teach us that lesson all over again.

In the end, that’s the only lesson that matters. 


Hemant said...

That's wonderful news! Congratulations! I hope your daughter and her husband are doing well and have a chance to get some rest in the... um... years ahead :)

Chicago Old and New said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Hemant. It was kind of you to think of us. We're obviously delighted. Hope things are going well for you.