I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I’m a grandfather.
Not having met the child, it all still seems theoretical. Yet I know there’s a little guy with a Ranzenberger face in northwestern Midland County.
Andrew’s relationship with a co-worker was intense and strange, and ended on a bad note. Yet a few months later, along came the little guy. Andrew has stood up, is indeed the father, and now is paying child support. He also has some very limited visitation.
The limited visitation is not uncommon for children less than a year old. The kid hasn’t yet done an overnight at his father’s house, and I haven’t yet had the opportunity to tag along with Andrew. I hope that happens soon.
Being a grandfather is something for which I have very limited role models. My dad’s father died on Christmas Day 15 years before I was born; that event cast an echo of sadness and loss on the holiday season for decades. Mom’s father died when I was 8. I have two main memories of Grandpa Schaeffer:
• He had taken me along to put flowers on my grandmother’s grave on a Sunday morning in November 1963. He had just bought a new, blue Chevrolet Bel Air, and it was one of those remarkably pleasant, late-November Michigan days. On the way back from the cemetery, we heard about the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald on the car radio.
• I had trouble when I was helping our extremely overweight dachshund, Gretchen, up the front steps. I yelled for help, and he helped me get that heavy dog into the house.
I also remember that his house on Park Street was very cool, and had a very cool banister. My cousins and I loved to slide down the railing. Most of the time, though, Grandpa was a distant figure, struck hard by the death of his wife. Soon, he, too, got very sick and died. I feel as if I never really knew him.
The real role model for me was the kids’ grandfather, Bryce Nimtz. He actually was their step-grandfather, but he filled the role so well. He died in January, and I miss him. He was a true class act.
So what do I do? I want to spend time with the little guy, have him tag along with me, and just talk about what we’re doing. I want to walk with him through CMU’s campus, show him the maroon-and-gold flowers, the labs and the lecture halls, the newsrooms and the broadcast studios, the arena and the football field. I want to take him to Chippewa football games and experience the Chippewa Marching Band’s incredible pregame.
I want him to dream. I want him to know he can make those dreams happen, and learn how he can make them happen. There's a lot of hard work and skill involved in making dreams come true, but hard work comes naturally to this family - and skills can be learned. I want him to know that.
And I want to listen to what he has to say. I want to tell him stories. And somehow, I think he just might want to tell me stories, too.
Just for the chance, that's what I'm thankful for.