Sunday, June 9, 2013

Father’s Day II: Being A Parent And Grandparent

Fr. Dale Matson

Last year I wrote about my late father and his importance in the lives of his children.

As a parent and grandparent to adult sons and grandsons the shoe is now on my foot so to speak. This is about father’s day from my perspective. I must confess that my role is limited to that of a consultant with my sons. They do ask for advice but don’t consider themselves bound by what I offer. In fact they are as often consultants to me. It is those same boys who would have emptied our checking account buying ‘action figures’ (boys don’t have dolls) who are now investment consultants for us. They are making their own mistakes and I have to bite my tongue about it. At one time there would have been the reflexive, “I told you that would happen.”

I cannot say enough how blessed we have been to have sons who are independent. They have ‘launched’. Our daughters in law and grandsons are healthy too. So often we hear that this is not the case with our friends.

Where is God in all this? He is saying this to me. He is saying, “Be there.” Much about life is a matter of showing up. It is all too easy to focus on my own goals and objectives and not being intentional about getting their life events on my calendar. Attending baptisms, graduations and sports events are all a part of being both a supportive parent and grandparent. Kids remember who was there. I remember those times in my own life. I can remember my own mentor Bob Wilson simply sitting back during his family gatherings and watching with a big smile on his face.  My friend Morton Kelsey once said that he regretted not having enough time for his family and grandchildren.

This is a confession of sorts. So much of life in the latter stages is about the wise use of leisure time. It is all too easy for a goal oriented person like me to see others as a distraction, and interruption or an obligation.  I am a ‘checker’ and when I look at my answering machine, my first thought is, “I hope there are no messages.” It is too easy to turn inward. It is too easy to focus on one’s physical pains that are called “benign” by my “ologists” who are necessary entries on the calendar.

It is not possible as a parent and grandparent to avoid the pain of mistakes and mishaps in the lives of our children and grandchildren. They are so connected to us that a band aid on a scraped knee causes us to wince. Striking out in a baseball game is our strike out too.

The sheer energy, enthusiasm and endurance of the grandchildren wears me out. They keep coming like tidal waves against an old sea wall. They don’t talk, they shout. They don’t walk; they run and jump over and across furniture. I have to remind myself that this is a blessing to witness these times of healthy chaos.

Today is father’s day and grandfather’s day at our house. I gird my loins for the activities that lay ahead. There will be no nap today. They all know I will head to bed at 8 pm whether they are gone or not. The word is out that I am hoping for new “Darn Tough” merino wool socks XL.

Thank You for Father’s Day Lord.     

No comments: