My experience with Father’s Day is extensive.
I celebrated twenty-nine of them as a son before my father died, at age fifty-seven, in 1982. It was a case of quality over quantity, although in this case, a little more quantity would have been sweet.
Today is my thirtieth Father’s Day as a dad. Like are ages, it’s another milestone in which I’ve both happily and sadly surpassed my own dad. I’m crossing my fingers that we get at least another ten years of these. That would make it an even forty years. Four decades has a nice ring to it. We can reevaluate the number in 2031.
There is one thing about this day in which I have little experience. How is a grandfather celebrated? This is my first Father’s Day as grandpa. I’m at a loss on how this works.
I mentioned earlier that my father died thirty-nine years ago. At the time of his death, only the first of what are now his eight grandchildren had been born…and he was only two years old. I can picture their interactions, but barely. This doesn’t give me much to go on.
My own grandfathers are even more deeply recessed in my memory. My paternal grandfather died in 1948, four years before I was born. All I know of him is what I’ve been told by others. I’ve heard he was a very nice man and a true stand-up guy. Yeah, those are great things, I’d love to live up to those standards, but it doesn’t help me with being a grandfather…at least not today.
My maternal grandfather was a different story. He was around until I was about six years old. I remember coming home one afternoon from second grade and finding out he had died the night before. It was the first time I had any dealings with death. It was scary for a young child.
I have one real memory about my grandfather. He bought me a purple bicycle. I’m not sure if I knew how to ride a bike when I first received it, but I loved that bike. That’s not going to help much today either. You can’t buy a bike for a nine month old boy, can you?
The other things I know about my grandfather come from stories I’ve been told. He wasn’t quite the stand-up guy as my other granddad. This guy like to gamble at the race track…a lot. He also liked women…a lot…especially if they were not my grandmother. On the night of his death, he was getting ready to meet a woman when he collapsed with a heart attack. They found him on the floor with a two things in his pocket….a quarter and a condom. Sigh!
Maybe my goal as a grandparent should be somewhere in between my two grandparents? It would probably be good to lean more to my father’s side, don’t you think?
I may be lacking in grandfather experience, but I’m pretty sure I know how this day will go. I’m going over to my daughter’s home for a visit. Her young son will also be there, because where else could a nine month baby go. He’s kind of a tough nut to crack and get close to, but I have a plan. See, he loves this song by Kool and the Gang. Whenever you sing “Celebrate”, he starts to smile, laugh and even do a little dance. So on this Father’s Day, it seems appropriate to “celebrate and have a good time.” That’s what Father’s Day/Grandfather’s Day is all about. I didn’t need anyone from my past to tell me that.