FIRST PUBLISHED DEC. 3, 2014
My husband and I are truly blessed to still have our fathers living. My dad and father-in-law both celebrated birthdays in November, so I am sharing memories of their times with our children and grandchildren in this post.
My father-in-law is Ben and his grandpa name is Poppa. Dad is Gerald, or Jerry, and his grandpa name is Guy. We often kidded the two of them that they should open their own ice cream store and call it Poppa and Guy's. Alas, no one would get the joke except those who knew their given names.
Dad obtained his grandpa name in a "what goes around comes around" kind of way. Our son called him Grandpa and still does, but our daughter and niece call him Guy. This came about when my niece was born and Dad greeted her with "Hi, guy!" because she had very little hair and evidently looked like a little boy to him. When she started talking, she turned it around and greeted him with "Hi, guy!" and it stuck. So he is affectionately called Guy by my niece and daughter, and Grandpa Guy by his great-grandchildren.
Lots of kids like to roughhouse with their parents and grandparents, but my dad preferred gentler methods of having fun. A favorite tradition was "walking on the ceiling." When the kids were little and light enough to pick up, they loved that he would hold them upside down at the waist, put their feet on the ceiling and "walk" them across the room. Much giggling would ensue, along with "Do it again! Do it again!"
Poppa Benny is also a gentle soul. He relishes time spent with our children and grandchildren in quiet ways as well. Favorite traditions with him are playing UNO!, Battleship, Monopoly and other games. Family vacations were spent in Wildwood, NJ, at one of the best and safest beaches for children. And now that he has great-granchildren, he yearns for them to have the Wildwood experience, too.
My dad was an electrician and our son spent many hours in Guy's basement workshop, absorbing everything his grandfather did. Years later, as a teenager, our son installed a dimmer switch in his bedroom. When I asked how he knew to do that, he simply replied he'd watched Guy do it once. ONCE! And after all that time he remembered how it was done. Amazing!
Our daughter has always been fascinated by history and her ancestry. Poppa is able to satisfy her desire to know about life in the '40s, one of Ben's favorite eras. He introduced her to Big Band music and they talk incessantly about sports. When Ben and his daughter upgraded the interior of the house he's lived in since the '50s, our daughter mourned the loss of the way it used to look — that's how she remembered it and wanted it to stay.
We are scattered now and it's not easy to get together with family as much as we used to. Yet, when we do, it's easy to fall into the same rhythm, the same conversations. The kids and their grandfathers find common ground and continue to make new memories. When our granddaughters visit here in NC, we carve out special time with Grandpa Guy and find activities we can do together. Last summer's peace pole was the highlight of their time with him. The year before, we took the grands to New England where they fell in love with the Connecticut countryside and seashore and spent hours playing UNO! and looking through family photos with Poppa. And we are making more memories still with our son's daughter, who is almost 2, as she grows up.
You know activities are a hit when the children can't stop talking about what they did on their vacations. Our son and daughter had many, many such times with their grandparents; likewise our grandchildren with their great-grandparents, and it is impossible to relay all those wondrous moments in this post. Suffice it to say, Tom and I are doing our best to emulate our own parents and provide the magnificent grandparenting experience our own parents did and still do. We can only hope that when we are in our 80s and 90s, as our fathers are now, that we are still as involved and fun.