I grew up “geographically” close to both of my grandfathers. For reasons that I do not have a clear recollection, I cannot say I was very close to my paternal grandfather, however, the opposite was true with my mother’s dad. He was just a great, down-to-earth, genuinely friendly guy. On my mother’s side of the family, there were 9 grandkids of which I was the oldest. This past Memorial Day most of us “grandkids” got into a wonderful remembrance exchange via Facebook regarding times we each spent with our Grandma and Grandpa. It was interesting to see how we all had such wonderful memories of my mother’s parents. Most people who knew my grandparents didn’t even know my Grandpa’s given name — they just knew him by his nickname — “Dutch” (which was a given nickname for the same reason as former President Ronald Reagan).
I spent many nights and weekends with my Grandpa while I was growing up. I always felt protected when I was with him and he always made me feel at ease and loved. He was great to play catch with, but yet, he would also fully include me on all of his grown-up projects. I never once felt like he talked down to me or treated me like “a kid.” Some of my most wonderful memories growing up are times spent with my grandparents.
I shared some of these things with our son and daughter-in-law when she was pregnant with our first grandchild. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize just how much all those wonderful experiences and interactions with Grandpa came to help shape who I became as a man. They weren’t just “wonderful memories” — they were priceless lessons in life:
- How to treat people –
- Development of a Christian walk –
- Faithfulness to family –
- Being honest in your dealings with others –
While our daughter-in-law was still pregnant, I made a commitment to them that I would endeavor to be the type of Grandpa to their kids that my Grandpa was to me. I have always kept that thought in my mental dashboard every time I’ve interacted with our grandkids. I also regularly pray for them. I include in my prayers that Grandma and I will be a good influence in their lives. My wife and I are very appreciative that our son and daughter-in-law give us great opportunities to be active grandparents. We love going to Krispy Kreme and wearing silly hats. We love attending soccer games and dance recitals. We also thoroughly enjoy their sleep-overs. We play whatever they want to play, eat whatever they want to eat and generally just try to make this a warm and loving place for them to hangout. As our grandson is now 8, he sometimes asks some more adult-type questions to which we always provide an honest and thoughtful answer. We love that our grandkids want to come stay overnight with us and we cherish the fact that they feel safe and protected when they’re with us. As I find myself transitioning into a new stage of life – I find it to be one of the greatest blessings of my life – simply “Being Grandpa”.
About the Guest Blogger
– Gary Aaron –
Gary grew up in Springdale, Arkansas and graduated from the University of Arkansas (as he says, “a long time ago”). After college, Gary spent 26 years as a Special Agent with the FBI until he retired and returned to Northwest Arkansas to start a job with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Gary has spent the last 10 years working in Information Systems, Global Investigations, and Global Ethics and plans to retire (for the second time) later this summer.