I have never been more glad to have a birthday than I was this year. After all, at a mere sixty, I would have been far too young to become a great-grandfather. Now, at sixty-one, I feel adequately prepared for the momentous event which transpired just under an hour ago.
Tobin (meaning “God is Good”) is the child of my grandson and his wife, who currently reside in Texas where dad handles munitions for B-1 bombers.
Age and offspring do not always line up the way that we ourselves would plan. Yet every precious child is a miraculous gift from God.
Our grandson was born to our precious daughter-in-law while she was in high school. We didn’t get to meet him until he was ten, but we’ve done our best to make up for lost time. Our grandson, early on began calling us his “great grandparents.” That didn’t make us feel old, just special.
When my wife worked in a residential care facility for severely handicapped children, one of the aides arrived one morning with joyous news. “I’m a great-grandmother!”
Because the woman seemed too young, Delores responded, “Congratulations, you look so young for being a grandmother.”
The lady laughed and said, “No, a great-grandmother!” It turns out she was not yet forty . . . having been 13 when she had a daughter who was 13 when she had her own daughter who now had birthed her own baby. (I don’t recall the gender of the child.)
As I wrote this, it dawned on me that this all took place thirty-seven years ago, so it’s quite possible there are now several more generations in that particular family tree.
Some people will scoff at the thought of celebrating such early and assumedly unintended pregnancies. But, that caregiver knew the truth—every young life is a gift from God.
As an imperfect parent and grandparent, I recognize all too well that I won’t be the great-grandfather Tobin should have. I do pray, though, that God would grant that my mistakes with him would be few, and the memories forged during this life will help this little one grow into the finest man that he can become.
Most importantly, I pray that he will see Christ in my life and recognize the value of faith. Only the Lord knows what the future will bring, and I will not be here to share too many decades of life with my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But my hope is that the time we do have will leave a lasting legacy of encouragement, faith, and compassion.
The letters of C.S. Lewis provide insights into the influence of his grandparents on his young life.
In a 1905 letter to his brother Warnie, he describes family festivities on Halloween. They even persuaded his grandfather to join in.
On Halow-een we had great fun and had fireworks; rockets, and Catherine wheels, squbes, and a kind of thing that you lit and twirled and then they made stars. We hung up an apple and bit at it. We got [his paternal] Grandfather down to watch and he tried to bite.
In a 1916 letter to his father, he refers to his grandmother’s declining health. (She died two weeks after he wrote.) Lewis refers to the common sentiment that we should have tried harder to spend time with family while they were with us. “I am sorry to hear what you say about [Lewis’ maternal] Grandmother: I feel that we ought to have seen more of her, but it was not easy.”
I should dearly love to get away for a bit, but, as you say, for so short a time, the expense and the interruption of work is hardly worth it. The Colonel must have had an unpleasant journey: I wish he would keep a diary which we could compare with that of Grandfather Hamilton in the same waters. Two generations of sub-tropical Atlantic and Hamilton temperament would be worth studying!
The diaries left by C.S. Lewis’ grandfather, and by his brother Warnie, provide a reminder to us that a written legacy will outlast our voices. If we have something important to say to our descendants, perhaps that is something we should keep in mind.