Friday, July 29, 2011

Grandparent Love; An answer for Modern Day Redneck

My friend, you recently asked me a question concerning grandparents and if we treat them differently than we did our children and if we love them more. Your question has been difficult for me. Since you posted I've had to dig deep into my soul, so to speak, for the clarity of an answer.

My credentials, I feel, are sorely lacking for this task, I am not a polished writer. I am a simple but well read man; if pressed I could explain Balzac's coffee habit and how he preferred its preparation, why I believe Hemingway was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century and that James Lee Burke is the best prose stylist writing today; but I am not a writer, nor do I hold credentials in any science dealing with human behavior or complexities of the mind. I can only answer as a grandfather that loves his grandchildren. With that said, here goes.

The short answer is yes, we do. As with all simple answers the greater truth is more complicated. My friend this great love has been molded from our life experiences, for what are we if not the sum total of the life we have lived. We, the grandparents, see our grandchildren through the lenses of time.
We have with age grown patient, where we as parents held little restraint in punishment of our children, we now restrain from such actions with our now mature innate sympathy. Grandparents give freely of our time, even those of us that still work fifty hour weeks.
As young people we dealt with the daily grind of life; we worked hard to make ends meet, fought the battle of debt, mortgages, seeking the next dollar in the non-ending fight of clothing and feeding our children.

Young parents feel and are trapped in the time spanking daily routine of modern life, they wake to an alarm clock, shake off a partial night of sleep, hit the shower and grind all day. Then it is home to, hopefully, a meal, and then find themselves lost in the void of television while their precious gifts of God (our grandchildren) wait for just a moment of their attention.
Most, not all, parents are lost to the gift God has awarded them. There are exceptions of course. I know a few gifted parents, parents with maturity and enough common sense, like you, to appreciate the young ones. Even still, their love will never match, in my humble opinion, that of the grandparents. This love must be experienced to be understood. Repeating myself here, I know. Yet it's a fact I must grind home.

It is very hard, to nearly impossible, to explain to you how much and why I love my grandchild, Little Bit. What I can do, in my simple way, is try and paint a picture of how I feel. This will not be easy for me. Please, I ask again forbearance.

Without complaint or excuses I have lived a hard life. Many of us have. We deal with it or cowboy up as you Texans say. I once had an extremely short fuse. I wasn't a mean person nor hard to deal with on a daily basis. I just had a few rough edges. I seldom suffer fools, but back then it was best if they'd stay outside my range. During my years in the service I'd fight at the drop of a hat. Not a proud period of my life.
Then Sweet Wife and my son came into my life. I worked hard and gave them the best life I could. We as a family were fairly successful. Yet, I wasn't happy with my life, oh, I had my moments but still, I felt incomplete. I was stuck. My spirit was somewhere in Idaho or western Montana and here I was with my roots sunk deep in Florida.

Then, six years ago, Little Bit was born. Little Bit changed me. When I first took her into my arms my soul was set free.
My rough edges were worn bone smooth. I found myself slowing down. I didn't yell or scream or have the inclination to bust somebody's head. I've always been a protective person but now my senses and awareness of any danger for this little gift of God went into overdrive. I felt true love unlike any in my life. 

I take time with my granddaughter and I listen to her. I allocate time for her games. I freely hand out the kisses and hugs, and more importantly, I tell her I love her. I do this, my friend, because I'm older, wiser, and like I said, I see her through the lenses of time with love few young people (and her parents) will ever understand.

My son and daughter-in-law have a bad habit of ignoring Little Bit which to a degree is understandable as they now have my nine month old grandson in their home. My wife and I tried to explain the need to share their love and not forget the fact they had another child which would need equal attention.
As is the case with most thirty year old people they have listened, smiled, and with the full knowledge they are far more intelligent than Dad and Mom, ignored our advice. While at her home, Little Bit suffers in silence. She's stuffed away in her room with her toys not unlike a mushroom. This, kills my soul.

An example of the difference between grandparents and parents. Remember I love my son with all my heart, he's a fine young man, just young. My son works hard, puts in very long hours, but with this mini-depression which we all suffer, his funds are limited and he's very frugal. Stay at home wife and all too....

This past Christmas Sweet Wife and I, with understanding their Christmas would not be very merry and bright, went out and purchased extra, over the top, gifts for our grandchildren. We wrapped them and placed them under our family room Christmas tree. My wife insists we have two trees in our house. She places one, a fake but nice tree, in our formal living room next to the fireplace and a live tree in our family room across from our other fireplace.
Every Christmas we have our son and his family over for Christmas dinner. They have their little gift exchange at home then drive over later in the morning. Last Christmas my wife was in the kitchen baking or some such when they arrived. I answered the door. All, with the exception of Little Bit, went straight to the kitchen. Little Bit ran to our living room and dropped down in front of our fake tree. We do not place gifts there. I could hear her softly cry.

I walked over and sat next to her and gathered her into my arms, asked, "What's wrong Sweetheart?"

She turned a little tear wet face up to mine and said, "Papa, Santa didn't come to my house and I only got two little dolls and some candy." The little girl thought her Christmas was over and that Santa had forgotten her.

So, I, fighting back my tears too, said, "Little Bit." 
"What, Papa."
"Why don't you walk into the family room and take a look under Papa's tree. Did you forget I asked Santa to come to Papa's house instead of yours."

The words were barely out of my mouth when she ran. Then, a scream of pure joy.

For the rest of the morning she would ask me how did Santa know she wanted this or that and isn't this the best dollhouse ever. I have it all on DVD.

My love for her runs deep and I would freely give my life for this little girl.

My friend, I hope this answers your question and please forgive me if it comes across as silly or overly dramatic. I tried.

(Note: I've written this in my office at my business. It's taken several hours since I find myself jumping up and down helping my customers. Please excuse any typing errors and edit work as I just haven't the time. Thank you)



  1. that was just purely beautiful and as a gramma, I can confirm very true! blessings

  2. I wish so very much that every grandparent felt this or at least the ones in the lives of my girls. Your words brought tears to my eyes. I don't go into depth on my blog on the off chance my father reads it and we are in a very delicate place but he and I are like water and oil. We always have been. I was the quiet reader. The child who just wanted to be loved. My mother was a druggie. They divorced not long after my brother was born. So at the age of 5 and even before I was mom. I was wife. He hired a nanny and he made sure we were fed and bathed but when it came to love I provided for my brother and no one provided for me. Once I was old enough to be the babysitter it fell to me. I watched him. I got us up and off to school on time. I fed us. I cleaned the house. There has always been a vast difference in the way my brother and I were treated. I worked at 16, graduated early, only was given his signature for a car but I paid for it myself. If I needed money it was a loan to be repaid with interest. My brother didn't get his first job until 19. A car was bought for him, money given to him anytime he asks. He can do no wrong. He has multiple arrests and works as a clerk in the electronics department and still he is closer to my dad than I. That has always hurt me. I wish I had been lucky enough to have a relationship in my life like the one you describe. My grandparents tried and they loved me but my father came by his lack of emotional connection honestly. So as a woman who knows how it feels to be the forgotten child I say thank you!!! You are wonderful. It is because of you that your sweet grandbaby will know love and confidence and hope. I missed out on those things until I met my husband.

  3. Lila, I understand and am so very sorry. With the insight you have and the life you were forced to live without the proper love and attention as a child, I know, will make you a stronger and I'm sure a more attentive parent and grandmother. God bless you.

  4. Thank you. Hubby and I both had some rough patches but we think they taught us what we want and don't want for our girls and our marriage and we are very blessed. No regrets because those moments led us to this place and this place is very sweet. We are actually accused of spending to much time together to the exclusion of others, lol. Oh well. We are happy!

  5. Thanks, Stephen. As a Dad you have re-opened my eyes a little. Once again, you almost got me choked up. Good stuff you tough old bird.


  6. True writers write from the heart, touch the emotions of their readers, and express what so many feel but are unable to express in words. Don't sell yourself are indeed a writer. I read your description of a grandparent's love aloud to my husband today. Our granddaughter had spent Thursday night and all day today with us and had just left to go home with her mommy and daddy. I choked up so many times and hubby smiled through his tears, "He really does get it, doesn't he?" Yes, you ARE a writer.

  7. HillBilly, one tough old bird to another, thank you.

  8. Beth, thank you too. This is a simple answer from the heart to a friend. I'm glad you enjoyed it but still feel I lack the talent and skills as such as you.

  9. Our families are our primary motivation for continuing to slog through some very tough times. If it weren't for my kids, I'd have said to hell with and moved to an apartment a long time ago. You have to have a reason to put up with life today, in all it's unpleasantness, and I can't think of a better one than family.

  10. Stephen, what words could I say or add to a heartfelt answer given with such eloquence? You my friend answered my question beyond any expectation I might have had. You underestimate yourself as a writer and please take the credit because credit is due. I long to write with such clear and vibrant understanding as you.

    As I have mentioned, I am not blessed with grandchildren just yet. I have been taught by great examples from my parents and the love they have shown for my children.
    Being a father of three older girls I do know the difference between being a father and being a daddy. I hope in the future I will find and learn the difference between a grandparent and a papaw.
    Thank you for your answer.

  11. Arsenius, well said, and neither can I.

    MDR, thank you for the kind words. You're more than welcome.

  12. For someone who professes not to be a writer, you have a wonderful "turn on words" and write from your heart. My grandmother was and still is the one person in my life that has truly loved me without reservations. I won't go into it here, but I would not be who I am now if not for her and my grandfather. I'm wiping tears away as I type this....
    I think I'll give her a call tonight... you know... just to say I Love You

  13. oh jeesh already know how i feel about this post...i feel so much that i won't do a regular rambling comment...oh...sigh...i cannot add to what your beautiful readers have already said...all i can say is that Little Bit is sooo lucky to have you and your Sweet Wife...and my wish for the world is that everyone have a "granddaddy" like you...we could save the world, Stephen...thank you so much for this!

    your friend always,

  14. SciFiChick, again, thank you very much. You're a sweet lady.

    Stassja, thank you. I'm the one that is lucky to have my Sweet Wife and Little Bit. Hope you are well.