Take your time, think a lot, Think of everything you’ve got. For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.
— Cat Stevens
Everybody tells you it’s easy to be a grandparent. The old “You just spoil ’em and let the parents deal with the aftermath” thing.
That’s simple enough ... if your desire doesn’t reach beyond your offspring’s offspring getting you one of those “World’s Coolest Grandpa” T-shirts or you’re content showing off the latest photos to your cronies.
I want more, though. I want to be a grandfather like Bobby Fletcher was. I want to try and impact my grandkids’ lives like Bobby did his grandson, Steve.
Steve is one of those people who could have turned out a lot different. His dad would never have been mistaken for a father of the year nominee, and Steve made many of his life’s most important decisions without a lot of fatherly input.
But Steve had an ace in the hole. He knew he could call on Bobby.
Bobby had been there for him when he was learning how to hunt, teaching him all the intracacies that differentiate the true sportsman from the clueless gunslinger who uses his hunting license as a license to kill. Bobby taught him how to be safe in the woods and how to respect the game he was hunting and the land he was hunting on.
It was Bobby who taught Steve to drive, too. Sure, it started with the sitting-in-the-lap thing, but it quickly elevated to turning Steve loose in an old pickup and a wide-open field. Learning way after the fact that it also included allowing a too-young-to-get-a-learner’s-permit preteen to drive from Ocilla to Albany didn’t do Steve’s father’s heart a lot of good in retrospect, but there’s no question the young man developed confidence in his driving ability that serves him well to this day.
Bobby taught Steve a lot of the how-to-do things, but those things pale in comparison to what granddad taught grandson about life. So many people have complemented Steve’s father over the years on the job he did “raising your son.” Even overflowing with paternal pride, though, the father deflects such praise.
“Steve is the young man he is because that’s who he chose to be,” the father says. “That, plus he had a tremendous grandfather who taught him a lot of life’s most important lessons.”
Steve’s dad became a granddad again early Monday morning. Jessica delivered Lillian Eve around 6 a.m., just a few days before her big brother Sammie will turn 2. And while there is maybe a little less hoopla this time around — the happy couple being pros at this baby thing, and all — the proud “Poppy” is feeling a bit anxious as he prepares to check out little Lillian for the first time.
There’s this gnawing feeling that it’s just not going to be enough to traverse the 350 or so miles up to north Alabama to see the grandkids every month or so. And it’s not going to be enough to check out the latest photos online ... when he can figure out how to access them.
No, Poppy’s going to have to ramp up his game as he prepares to meet the newest member of his son’s family and renew acquaintances with grandkid No. 1. The standard’s been set; it was set by Bobby quite a few years ago.
And the bar’s been set pretty high.
Email Carlton Fletcher at email@example.com.