21 Mar 2008
Recently, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly were blessed with the arrival of our seventh grandchild. Jordan Nichole Papanu arrived on planet earth on February 13. The grandfather is doing fine, thank you, but there is some indication the grandmother has left planet earth.
Since the day of the birth, the grandmother has been conspicuous by her absence at our home. I, the only sane one in our house at the time (which is a radical change), was left to fend for myself. Even though this is our seventh round with grandchildren, you would think nobody ever had a grandchild before.
This only points out the fundamental difference between a grandmother and grandfather. When I first became a grandfather, I felt left out in the cold. It seemed to me that grandfathers got the short end of the stick when it came to grandchildren. Grandfathers are often pushed to the circumference of activities surrounding the arrival of a grandchild. It was not long before I discovered the true genius of grandfatherhood.
Unless you know how to use your grandfather capital, it really does not mean very much. It took me quite a while but I think I have mastered the art and craftiness of being a grandfather. Normally I do not believe in evolution, but I must say this matter of being a grandfather has involved quite an evolutionary process. Although this process does not begin with a monkey, it just may well end with monkey business.
It all began after our third grandchild was born. I remember the time quite well. My wife had sent me to the grocery store to get a few items she needed for the evening meal. Being a good husband that I am, I went to fetch her vittles. Being the absent-minded husband that I am, I did not get everything she asked me to get.
When she saw what I had purchased at the grocery store, she looked at me with one of those looks and said, "How many times..." It was at that moment I had a brilliant idea. I knew I was in trouble and I knew this lecture would last quite a spell. I looked off into space and started grinning.
"Why are you grinning?"
"I was just thinking," I said while still looking off into space grinning, "what Tyler did the other day."
Suddenly her demeanor changed and she almost whispered, "What did he do?"
Now comes the genius part. I tell her some little thing he might have done and it really does not have to be true, just likely. Then she takes over.
"Oh," she says with a very cheerful manner, "that's nothing. Last week..." And she was good for at least an hour. By the time she finished she had completely forgotten that she was in the midst of giving me a piece of her mind. The rest of the evening past thinking of all those little silly things that grandchildren do.
Not long after that event, we are sitting in the living room watching television. It was a program I had wanted to see for a long time and was just beginning when I heard across the room at deep, heavy sigh.
"Do we have to watch that?"
It was then another brilliant idea germinated in my fertile mind. I simply looked at her and said, "I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention. I was wondering what Taylor was doing right now."
Immediately I could see the wheels turning in her mind. It was not long before she went to the telephone and dialed our daughter's number to find out what little Taylor was doing at the time. I knew that was good for at least two hours. I settled back and enjoyed my anticipated TV program.
I love grandchildren. And more importantly, I love being a grandfather.
The art of grandfatherhood is not limited to the home.
It was one of those rare occasions when my wife talked me into going to the mall with her to do some shopping. We had no sooner got into the mall than walking towards us was Mr. and Mrs. Smith (not their real name). The Smith’s are the most boring people I know. Once they corner you, they are good for an entire hour at least. Especially Mrs. Smith. She has mastered the art of speaking continuously for an hour without taking a breath.
I then had another brilliant idea. As they approached, I grabbed his hand, shook it vigorously and said, "It’s so good to see you, my wife has pictures of our grandchildren she's dying to show you."
As my wife pulled out a huge photo album from her purse, I could see the color drain from their faces. For the first time that I knew them, they could not think of anything to say. Finally, they remembered a very urgent appointment they were almost late for and begged a rain check on the pictures.
My wife stood there holding the photo album with a bewildered look on her face but I had a broad smile all over my mug.
I like what the Bible says about grandfathers. "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children…” (Proverbs 13:22a KJV).
The best inheritance a good man can give his grandchildren is a firm faith in Jesus Christ. I pity the family that does not have a praying grandfather.
Rev. James L. Snyder