The Art of the Great Grandfather.
There are few things that truly stand out in your life, I don’t mean the everyday stuff, like a new job or a new house, as wonderful they might be, I DO mean those things that stopped you in your tracks and made you take stock of your entire life in a breath stealing, arrythmic moment, in fact THE MOMENT.
If I am brutally honest, such momentous ocassions seem to have passed me by, maybe because I consider myself to be a take-life-in-my-stride, glass-half-full type of person or maybe I’m just not that lucky or equally maybe I am lucky, regardless of what my serendipity quotient might be, nothing could prepare me for our daughter telling my wife and I that we were to be grandparents.
I need to qualify this, no it was not a complete surprise, our Daughter Kirstin and her husband Dom were 16 blissful months into matrimony, around 30, and here’s the kicker, they are both PROJECT MANAGERS. For the benefit of those who fail to appreciate the significance of this, I refer you to Paddington Bear, The Movie, where the care free, live life on the edge, motorbike riding Henry Brown is transformed into a risk assessed, spreadsheeet writing Volvo driver by the initial bawl thrown by his firstborn.
The point is that by nature project mangers inherently prefer to be in control, enjoy an ordered existence and above all avoid mistakes and accidents, I’m not suggesting our daughter’s pregnancy was the result of a cold goals and obvjectives spreadsheet, however what I am sure of is that their cyclic planning was not a route for a ride on a tandem.
Anyway, notwithstanding the cause and effect, I was about to become a grandfather, after the requisite hugging and kissing of our daughter, this was when I had THE MOMENT, my heart pounded as I struggled to regain breath, passing through a temporal void of a few seconds I found myself sitting on my office chair, my mind racing, struggling to rationalise the awesome responsibility that had been thrust upon me as a nascent Grandfather.
Obviously, as I have a daughter, I must be a father, and as a father I would have taken care of a baby, (in fact two, we also have a son). I had always taken my fatherhood very seriously, and with, in part, my help, our kids had grown to be well-balanced, productive, responsible people, and we were all close as a family, you know the stronger the pull, the tighter the knot of family bond becomes and all that.
My thinking that all would be fine because of my fathering experience proved to be a fleeting delusion, this was different, when you are a father, particularly a first timer, you are forgiven your mistakes as part of a learning process, but now as a grandfather I needed to know it all, whatever all is?. My mind took me to thinking about the great grandfathers of the movies, sage characters, usually bearded, loved by family and friends.
My first thought was that I must be strong, protecting our extended family from those who would do us harm and try to fracture our family love, yes that was it, I must be STRONG, doing what I must to protect my family, no not just doing what I must, I would have to do whatever it would take to protect them just like Don Vito Corleone…. sorry that’s the GOD father.
OK that wasn’t a great example, I would have the enthusiasm of Royal Tenenenbaum, be steadfast and level-headed like Charlie’s Uncle Joe and the fight of Ulee Jackson. The simple fact that I was drawing comparisons with the fictional told me that I was actually far off the mark.
This realisation made me appreciate that there is an Art to being a GREAT grandfather, and that I would have to apply myself to acheive it, so I set to the task. I have learned a little so far and I’m still learning.
My next missive will tell the story of helping our daughter with her pregnancy, and how I had a second THE MOMENT prior to delivery.