As I begin this blog, my granddaughter has been 18 for an entire day. It seems unlikely that a person 52 could have a legal adult for a grandchild, but those, like me, who started early having a family understand what this day means. I am caught between my chronological age, of being a middle-aged, relatively healthy man, still working in the prime of my life; and that of a grandfather, watching his beloved eldest birth-grandchild graduate high school and go off to college. Most people my age have watched their children, not their grandchildren, go through this phase fairly recently. My own children graduated high school in the mid-to late-1990s.
In my family of birth, my situation is not at all unusual. My maternal grandmother met Mary, her great-great grandchild when she was only 70. Five generations that I, too, will probably see. As it is, in my lifetime, I’ve seen seven generations of my family from my great-great grandfather Lawrence, born in 1881, who was alive when I was born, to my grandchildren.
This is truly a momentous day for Mary, reaching adulthood, healthy, intelligent, educated, and talented. The journey of her life is now in her hands. It was a tough beginning. She was eight weeks premature and almost died. But she is a fighter! Now, here she is ready to take life on her own terms. If she chose to move to Mali to study the culture, Peru to meet her extended family, or Wisconsin to eat cheese, she could. After five children, I wholly understand what that means. It’s not easy, because to me, she remains my Mary Littlebits; but, maybe not as much as I thought she would be by this point. I respect my granddaughter enough to know she can handle the choices ahead of her.
She calls me Dziadzia, just like her mother called my father, and I called my grandfather. The Polish word means Grandpa. I love hearing her call me Dziadz. Few words sound as sweet to me. Perhaps especially from my first grandbaby. I suspect I’m becoming a bit more sentimental as my grandchildren grow up. After all, there are 10 of them. I have a few more times to go. My youngest grandchild is a year old. I’ve never met her before, but in 17 years, I’ll be 69, the same age as my birth father is right now. By that time, Mary will probably have had a child. Who knows?
Now that I have rambled on about my cherished Mary, I will go to sleep, and dream of her happy future.
Happy birthday, dear Mary! Your Dziadzia loves you!