Vagneur: The ride of a lifetime
He’s out there somewhere, a young boy I’m dying to meet. For now I’ll have to be patient, but he’ll hit town soon — my unborn grandson.
In cowboy vernacular, I’m building a big loop, like a pair of strong arms to caringly place around him to comfort and encourage him when necessary, creating an island of safety to keep him from wandering too far and to keep danger away. As he grows, so will the loop, until this granddad rides off into the sunset, leaving behind what he hopes is a good legacy.
These special moments are saved for old bastards like me, I reckon. Our faces are lined with all that we’ve been through, virtual lifetime works of art that are etched with worry and smiles, tears and laughter, and our eyes, which have seen so much and are stained with jade and cynicism, crave the return gaze of a young one who can look our way with a touch of wonder and a bit of awe and innocently call to us, wanting answers to questions about all things in the universe.
Today’s youngsters are pushing, wanting me to move over, and I’m resisting, still riding horses that snort and buck and still snaking turns down kinky, snow-covered steeps and deeps. Maybe this is the day that’s due, when I can ease up on the throttle a bit and take the time to watch and grow with the youngest in my family. Reliving life through the eyes of a child is an excellent form of rejuvenation — my daughter taught me that.
My family has decided that this grandson will likely call me “Grumpa,” this originally from a daughter who has publicly thrown the term “curmudgeon” my way with a smoothness that is unsettling. I’ve had a couple of women friends who, when approaching the threshold of grandparentage, informed me that they had picked out names they expected to be called by their grandchildren, none of them denoting a “grandmotherly” role. As they learned, expectations are easily undermined by reality.
Never was there a bigger hero in my life than my own paternal grandfather. He taught me how to enjoy life however it came at me, and with patience (mostly), he taught me many of the things I needed to know as a man: how to saddle my own horse, how to doctor a cow in the middle of the forest, how to find good worms for fishing and always to have a date on Saturday night. He died when I was 11 years old, and there hasn’t been a day since that I haven’t thought of him. Grandfathers are important.
“Aren’t you excited?” people ask. To be honest, I think “excited” is the wrong word. Honored, yes. Curious, of course. Excitement is for my daughter and son-in-law. This is their project — I’m but a bystander at this point. And no, I haven’t been trying to influence the naming of my grandson. That’s not in my bailiwick, either.
I’ve learned that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to explain the joys of children to those who don’t have any. I also know that if you’re a parent, it is ultimately futile to date or have an affair with someone who doesn’t have children. They never seem to understand the necessity of sharing the last cookie with your kid or that weekend athletic contests at school take precedence over romantic interludes in the woods. It’s probably true that I won’t appreciate being a grandfather until the day arrives — and I promise not to become too obnoxious about it all.
For the moment, we don’t know what his personality is going to be like or what he’ll even care about, but we do know he is going to be one of us. That is the magic.
It’s a new trail I’ll be traveling with my grandson, the path ahead unknown, but my foot’s in the stirrup, and my hands are on the reins, ready to mount up for what I anticipate to be the ride of a lifetime.
Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. His grandson is due Friday.
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