Ok, so now I’m a grandfather.
My new granddaughter is named Margaux. She was born a few weeks ago, and she is perfect. Thanks for asking!
How did I get to grandparenthood so fast? I feel like just yesterday I became a father.
The number one question I have been getting has been “what is your grandparent name?”
Huh? What kind of a question is that?
I only really knew two of my four grandparents, and their names were Grandmom Scuderi (my mom’s mom) and The Admiral (dad’s dad). [Side note: The Admiral wasn’t an admiral! He was a Bosun’s Mate and served in WW2. “The Admiral” wasn’t a grandfather name either…every person who knew him called him The Admiral.]
My parents and Julie’s parents went by Grandma or Grandpa “X”: Rosalie, Diego, Sandy, Jane, Grumpy. My dad was Grandpa Grumpy which, if you know my dad, is humorously-fitting. The common theme here is Grandpa or Grandma X…no mystery titles or honorifics or puzzlers.
Nowadays, and I don’t know where it’s coming from, the Grandparent Name must be unique! I’m not sure if it’s the parents who want these new names or the grandparents who decide it’s important. But what’s the deal?
There are Lollies and Papis and Noonies and Pops and Grampis and JuJus and all kinds of other names that were formerly reserved for colorful chewable candies you bought in oversized boxes at the movie theaters.
My first instinct was treat this as a joke and throw out something for laughs. So, before Margaux was born, I said I’d like to be called “Mr. Wood” or just “Jim.” People I told were confused and then sort of hesitantly laughed. I think they thought I’d eventually change it. And, of course, I did change it because I didn’t want to start grandparenthood as the jackass who didn’t want a grandparent name. (Actually, “Jackass” might be a good name…no, I guess not.)
So I went with the simplest thing I could think of: “The G”
"The G" could be for grandpa, or grandpop, or great guy, or golfdad, or genius, or goofball or a bunch of other g-themed names.
So “The G” it is. As in “The G is taking you to get ice cream!” or “The G is ranting about IRAs again.”
With that settled, here’s the other question I get a lot, mostly from not-yet-grandparents:
“How does it feel to be a grandparent?”
Aside from the awesomeness, fun, and feelings of blessedness because I have the privilege of being a grandparent, one thing stands out for me. I know it will sound a little grandiose, but bear with me. What I feel is a profound sense of commitment to the future of humanity.
When we are children and young adults, we are understandably inwardly-focused. That doesn’t mean we don’t care about others, but this time in our life is all about figuring out how we fit into the world. Some of us figure it out early, some are late bloomers, but we are mostly focused on our own hopes, dreams, and plans. We are acorns, trying to figure out where to grow.
As we move from young adulthood to middle age, we move to building our “family” -whatever that means to us. Maybe we have children (or furry children) of our own. Maybe we create family out of relationships and community. Maybe we begin making commitments to organizations, causes, or institutions. We use the positions we found in our young phase to make our way and branch out. We root ourselves to family, work, causes, and community. We are the tree.
And now, as I have been fortunate enough to have been granted grandparent status, I see the next (last?) phase as one of even broader reach. I realize now that I’m just a part of the much bigger history of humanity. I am one tree, and I'm proud of the branches and roots I've created. Yes, some trees are bigger, more famous or more impactful than I am, but I’m realizing now that none of this is about me. It’s about them. I am one tree in a vast forest. It's the forest that matters.
Margaux will know me a short time. But, God willing, she should see the 22nd century! I need to do my part to help shape her world for the better. I now understand that I’ve always been playing my role in the story of humanity, and my part is to pave the way for the people coming after me, to keep the story going, in the best way possible. All of us need to do our parts to make sure the forest of humanity remains vibrant and growing. We'll be gone someday. The forest needs to survive. Our job is to be sure that happens.
That’s what I see is joyful about being a grandparent. I see the future of our world in Margaux's face, a world I helped create and will work to perpetuate in the best way possible. It’s an awesome responsibility.
What amazing things that face might see!