Saturday, December 23, 2006

A case of the "gramps"

The following column appeared in the Aledo Community News on Friday, Dec. 8, 2006 issue.
The phone call that worries you most comes in the middle of the night … or as early as late in the evening – any time after you go to sleep. When you’re shocked out of a snoring slumber, you have the same thought that something has happened to your children – provided you HAVE children.
I always fear the same thing – hearing the words, “Mr. Bloom, we hate to tell you this, but … ” It is every parent’s worse nightmare.
I got that phone call a year ago, while driving at 2:30 a.m. for the birth of our first granddaughter. The darkness and the solitude on Interstate-45, for the next 2 ½ hours, made it worse. So when I got a call nine month ago that our daughter-in-law, Amanda, was pregnant again, each late-night call – even the wrong numbers of fax spam calls – brought with them an inherent fear.
But there was ONE phone call that I eagerly awaited and it came on a Wednesday morning.
It was my youngest daughter, Kelsey, with the simple words, “We have baby.” In the background, I hear the strong sound of newborn seeking nourishment – right away, Yep, it was a Bloom , alright.
When the wrong call happened before, my initial reaction was, “Chuck, you’re right. Nothing good can come with a phone call in the middle of the night.” But instantly, a sense of euphoria swept over me. Amanda would be deprived of being a mother, Robert was not going to be a father and I, the most unlikely of candidates, would not become something I had always dreamed of being – a grandfather.
I hold a special place in my heart for grandparents, especially grandfathers for a personal reason. I never had any as a child. Both of my parents’ fathers died before they were married. I never got the benefit of their experiences, their wisdom, their love or their nurturing.
My grandmothers lived until I got to college, but it wasn’t the same. They were Sunday night dinners, canasta games and that certain grandmotherly smell (the almond scent of Jergens lotion). They provided money for me to buy toys and visiting their apartments meant swimming or meeting former baseball players who lived down the hall.
Otherwise, it seemed that they existed to aggravate, in some sense, their own children. I was told stories about my grandfathers, but they had no relevance for me.
Unfortunately, my own children have suffered in a similar manner. My late father only saw his grandson twice in his lifetime and never, regretfully, saw his two granddaughters before his death. Dad always had some cockamamie tale about his failing health preventing him from playing with them. But they didn’t need him to be a playmate; they needed a mentor.
If an elderly man or woman can physically keep up with the incredible energy of a child, then a tip of the cap to them. However, all their knowledge and experience needs to be sent along the river of life. Oral history needs to be preserved in order to learn about the future, from what occurred in the past.
In modern times, both parents often must spend a significant portion of the day as wage earners, so caring grandparents can often fill the nurturing gap. All of it will benefit and positively influence our children.
I also worried that I was too young to earn the grandparent label. Nope, my driver’s license says I am 54 and while going to see U2 in concert still gets me jazzed, there is far more gray in my beard than any other color.
I am ready. I am pumped. I plan to be the Grandfather Man for the World Tomorrow. I’ve given myself until month six before I invade Babys ‘R Us.
I’ll be there for Robert and Amanda and start my grandfatherly duty of spoiling this kid rotten from the opening moment of baby Riley’s life.
Just try to stop me.

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