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Jim Williams: Grandson’s arrival opens a new chapter

While playing a round of golf last fall, I happened to partner with a fellow duffer. Not being acquainted with this gentleman, I wanted to break the ice. So I asked him the usual get-acquainted questions: Where do you live? Where do you work? Are you married? Do you have any children?

Well, to my surprise – but not coming as a complete shock since I came from a large family – he told me that he and his wife were the parents of 10 children.

Since he looked like he could qualify for all of the senior citizen discounts, I assumed that with all those children, he must have some grandchildren. I thought this was the perfect time to mention that my wife and I had recently become first-time grandparents.

When I asked him how many grandchildren he had, in a moderate voice and without looking up, he calmly told me that he had 45.

I thought to myself, “did he say 45?” I don’t have a hearing problem, but can you blame me for asking him again? This time he raised his head and proudly said he had 45 grandchildren!

Call me curious or just plain nosey, but I was tempted to ask him if he knew all of their names. Can you blame me? It’s not that I wanted to embarrass him or make him feel uncomfortable, but I wondered if any of his grandchildren had the same first names. Can you imagine the number of relatives at a family reunion?

With all due respect to the untold numbers of proud grandparents I know, I always thought of their boasting as somewhat self-serving. Well, that abruptly changed with the birth of our first grandchild.

Many of our family members and friends have grandchildren, but not having any of our own, my wife and I had no understanding of the joy and happiness a grandchild could bring.

Having a grandchild opens up a wonderful new chapter in our lives. A chapter that I hope will have many pages. My wife and I are blessed with three loving and caring children. But having a grandchild, especially the first grandchild, is an entirely different and inexplicable feeling.

This is especially true since, as we approach our 50th wedding anniversary, we did not think we would ever have a grandchild.

I never pictured myself as a typical grandfather. To be perfectly honest, I always associated or conjured up the word “grandfather” or “grandpa” as someone who was old, elderly or, even worse, ready for the rocking chair. Was I wrong!

This blessed event has given me newfound energy and motivation. There is so much that we have to look forward to, such as seeing him take his first steps and speak his first word. And, if I may sound a bit self-serving, I look forward to the day I hear him call me “grandpa.”

This being our only grandchild, and with him living in the Midwest almost 600 miles away, my wife and I have already planned our bimonthly visits. Yes, I wish he lived closer, but with today’s social media, including Facebook, Twitter, email and especially Skype and Google Talk, we can “visit” as often as we wish.

I recently heard the quote: “Children are life’s reward.” I agree – and we have been richly rewarded.