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When John and I first became grandparents 15 years ago, we were obviously younger, more energetic, less tired, younger, quicker to get out of a chair when the need arose, ready to learn how to unbuckle every contraption the kids could harness our grandkids into, and did I mention younger?

But we were still working, John wasn’t able to be at the hospital for the first six babies’ arrivals, time with them wasn’t as easily available, and daytime visits with the grandkids had to be scheduled around work hours, even on weekends. Because John was in the food industry, time was rarely his own. If a customer needed a delivery of potatoes or lettuce on a particularly busy weekend, he had to be available.

When he was able to be with the grandkids though, he was unstoppable.

The first grandkids had the benefits of unlimited wrestling in the middle of the living room floor, backyard soccer and baseball and gymnastics and basketball, and horsey rides on his back up a flight of stairs to their bedrooms at night, complete with a final bucking into their beds which always brought gales of laughter and pleas of “One more time, Grandpa!” And of course, Grandpa obliged. He was younger then, as were his back and his knees.

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I have to admit I worried how things would be when our youngest would have babies.  The energy levels would necessarily be lower, and the bucking bronco would probably be a lot happier munching on an apple in the stable. I questioned what the youngest grandkids would miss.

But I’ve learned, once again, that God provides.

And to thank the Lord for older grandpas . . . their availability, their wisdom, their smiles, their willingness to be there, and their calm. 

There’s very little that bothers John with these last grandkids.  He’s less flustered, less baffled, more apt to break into laughter at their antics, less bothered by their temper tantrums or unusual requests. He is so happy to be a part of their lives and much sneakier at making sure he’s the one spoiling them with first bites and sips of everything wonderful when no one appears to be looking.

He’s the one who listens unconditionally when 5-year-old Adler vents his frustration with his mom, agreeing that she was kind of that way when she was his little girl, too.  He’s the one who laughs at the almost 2-year-old twins when they insist on one more of his Bugles or holding his bottle of Dr. Pepper hostage on their high chair trays at dinner. He sits very calmly with them as they read together, and his storybook voices are so wonderfully perfect!

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He can coax a beep-beep or a boom from the twins as they practice for their Parents as Teachers coordinator, join Adler in a LEGO Batman movie and a popsicle on their big couch, and will then slowly, painstakingly, coerce his troubled knees up the steps to tell them all goodnight. 

It’s what grandpas do, no matter their age.

Vicki Bahr

I'm a mother of four, grandmother of nine, wife of John for fifty years, an incurable optimist, word lover, and story sharer. I've worked and played at many careers, from proofreader to preschool teacher, businesswoman to human interest newspaper columnist to medical records clerk. Each path has afforded me the opportunity to appreciate the warmth of humanity and to hopefully spread a lifetime of smiles, empathy, and God's inspiration along the way. My life continues to be one of delight. With experience comes understanding, with understanding comes peace.

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