This I Believe

Herman - Kansas City, Missouri
Entered on January 19, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: children
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Pictures of Marley

She is perhaps the most photographed female on the planet. She is beautiful, sensitive and kind, yet demanding of those around her. When she is upset, everyone is upset. When she laughs, even her eyes laugh, creating a sea of smiles around her. She says very little, but when she talks, everyone pays attention, as if her thoughts are the most profound in our universe. She follows a steady regimen of stretching and running to maintain her health and is dedicated to exploring the world around her.

Her name is Marley. She is 19 months old. She is my granddaughter.

Like nearly everyone with ears, I had been told that being a grandparent is the most wonderful thing in the world. Logically I could follow the arguments; spoil them and send them home, and all of its variations. But it seemed a little too-good-to-be-true, like pyramid marketing, a weight loss pill or actually winning money in Vegas. I assumed there was some dark secret about it and all current grandparents had to perpetuate the myth to recruit new members into the club.

The fact is that I became a father at age 21 and I had the parenting instincts of, say, a gerbil floating in the ocean on the lid of a shoebox. I knew the situation was scary, but had no idea what to do about it. I tried as best as I could, but often felt inadequate. In spite of it all, Nathan and Cassandra have turned out to be exceptional people; intelligent, sensitive, caring and fun.

But when my daughter informed me a couple of years back that I was about to become a grandfather, some of the old fears plowed back into my stomach. How the heck was I supposed to learn this new role?

Then Marley was born and a miracle happened. My daughter and son-in-law ushered her into this world without my help. They are great parents and Marley is a happy, healthy, wondrous child. She is evidence that my well intentioned but sometimes comical efforts to be a dad had not somehow doomed future generations.

And for the biggest miracle of all? Those other grandparents weren’t lying. There is no dark secret. Learning to be a grandparent is easy. I get to spoil Marley. I get to listen to her giggle, I get little kisses soft as dawn, and I get to share apples with juice running down both of our chins. I get to hear little “hi’s” and “bye’s” interspersed with jabber. I get to watch her run with abandon.

I spend a lot of time just looking at pictures of Marley because she makes me happy. I smile knowing that I had an indirect role to play in her creation and she turned out beautifully anyway. I believe becoming a grandparent may be that rarest form of grace; a second chance. And I will not waste it.