AND THE AWARD GOES TO

I don’t need the mug, the medal, or the t-shirt. I want the award.

best-pops-ever-mug.jpg

It’s good (isn’t it) to have a few things on your list that you would like to attain to, even though the reach is too far? You know, like: bringing world peace, writing the next great novel, playing drums with Diana Krall, etc. Numerous grade-school teachers documented my “vivid imagination and daydreaming” on my report cards. I took it as a compliment, though I’m not sure it was intended that way. I still daydream; it’s just that the dreams have changed.

Our dreams do change, don’t they? The good news is we still get to have them. Even the Bible promises that while the youngsters get to have visions, we men-of-a-certain-age get to dream dreams. What’s the old line about not letting your dreams be replaced by regrets?

Just in the past few weeks I’ve attended two memorial services: one was for Orlie Sawatzky,the grandfather of my daughter-in-law, Kara. the other was for my father. The heart of the service for Orlie was when his grandchildren told stories about this man they loved deeply. When planning my Dad’s service I said, let’s steal that idea and let his grandkids share their stories. It too was the heart of the service.

As I listened to all of these grandfather stories, I realized my dream of being the BEST POPS EVER was just that; a dream. I’ll never surpass those two. Still, I can strive to be my version of best.

Now let’s play the “If Only...” game. If only I had the energy to keep up with one of my grands, much less 6-soon to be 7. There’s not enough coffee. I try to do the yoga and walking, hoping that I can build some stamina, but it’s like that slurping sound as you finish off a strawberry malt and you’re trying to get that last bit. Don’t get me wrong: I can play checkers, Uno, Legos, and dolls all day. I’m up for back to back to back to back episodes of Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol, and I’ll read books as long as they want to read books. You should see me watch them dance, ride their bikes, do cartwheels, jump from the chair to the sofa. I’m happy to peel an apple they are probably going to take one bite of. But none of that is going to win any awards. If only I had the funds to take them all to Disneyland or world or whatever. If only I didn’t hate Branson and Silver Dollar City. If only my dermatologist would let me play in the sun without a big hat, 350 SPF sunscreen and a long-sleeved shirt. If only I weren’t paralyzed with fear about one of them getting bit by a disease carrying mosquito or tick, a wasp, spider, scorpion, or the neighbors yapping shiiity little shih tzu dog. If only... Know what I mean?

So, I listened to these amazing young adults: the Sawatzky’s and Fuller’s, talk about their grandfathers and I thought to myself what is the common denominator here? What is the thread that runs through these stories that turns into the fabric of a really good granddad?

And there it was! Orlie Sawatzky and William Fuller gave them a whole lot of presents. That right. They showered their grandkids with presents.

Oh, wait. That’s a typo. That should have been presence. That’s what they did. They gave their grandkids their presence—their undivided, unconditional, never-ending presence. They were just there for them. And even now, through the memories and the stories, these two old saints are still there for them.

I can do that.

ALPHA & OMEGA

YOU KNOW HOW WHEN YOU’RE BORN, everything that happens is your FIRST? First smile, first word, first tooth, first step…

Malachi (as in it’s Me Against The Grand-Girls; that Malachi) just had his first haircut. It’s one of those FIRSTS that seems to cause a giant step in Growing Up. Like the first day of school, first sleepover, first dance, first kiss…

All of this is a part of what I understand to be a “coming-of-age”. Some say that coming-of-age means reaching a certain milestone like getting a driver’s license, graduating from high school, being able to vote, etc. Some say it defines the process of maturity, particularly emotional maturity.

When does it end? Is there a point where we can say, “I’ve come of age!” I don’t know. Some seem to remain eternally toddler-like, spoiled brats—you know the ones that people judge as needing to grow up. Some just seem to be blessed with a youthful curiosity, and sense of wonder.

Could it be that at some point our LASTS outnumber our FIRSTS? Is that a sign that we have come-of-age? Our last day of school, our last child to leave the nest, our last day on the job, our last time to drive a car… Stopping now. This could get morbid in a hurry. But, maybe not.

Several years ago, September 2013, to be exact, I started this blog called About Pops . It was a part of a process in my life that I came to call my “second-coming-of-age”, because I’ve discovered this life is loaded with opportunities for FIRSTS and do-overs.

My Amazing-Missus and I have taken adventures in our Airstream Travel Trailer I never thought we would have. Being a Pops is fraught with FIRSTS, because we get to celebrate all of those with each of our grands. I was able to reconnect with a friend from high school days, which may not sound like a big deal, but it was for me. Somehow I found myself becoming a part of a group of young artists in New York City and then around the world—a group called International Arts Movement. I even got to serve on their board which meant making numerous trips to NYC, and then helping cultivate seeds of that arts movement back here in OKC.

So, I’m seeking FIRSTS and finding new joy in the repetitive things of life: road trips to Shawnee and Alva, Seinfeld reruns, eating “Chinese” food with Mom & Dad, going to work. When I kiss my Amazing-Missus goodnight when I go to bed and she settles in to watch the ten o’clock news, I want to do it with the passion of my 20 year-old self. Well… maybe not that passionate (there was a good deal of lust in that passion). You get the idea.

Pretend your opening a fortune cookie and inside the little paper says, “Go do something you’ve done a thousand times and enjoy it like it was the FIRST.”

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy