My Dad - Her GrandpaWritten by Teresa Clark
Emotions stirred within me I wasn’t expecting, or prepared for. Nostalgia; a longing I hadn’t felt for years. Not a longing for a childhood past, rather an ache for the grandpa’s I never knew.
I watched them as they walked towards the trail, hand in hand: my father, my daughter - a reflection of another time - déjà vu’. A time when I was the little girl clasping the large calloused hand, trying desperately to keep in step with that incredibly long stride. The man so familiar, yet so different, thinner, a little less hair with more silver, yet still firm in his steps. Even the hiking boots are the same, though older, worn, broken in, and re-soled. My Daddy - transformed suddenly into a Grandpa! The transformation took place sooner than I ever imagined.
Emotions stirred within me I wasn’t expecting, or prepared for. Nostalgia; a longing I hadn’t felt for years. Not a longing for a childhood past, rather an ache for the grandpa’s I never knew. Almost a twinge of jealousy for the memory the two of them were building, sharing.
Funny I’d never imagined my father as a grandpa. Perhaps you need a framework of memories to imagine someone in a given situation? But there he was – a grandpa. Repeating a process followed before, yet softer, an image in pastels. The realization thrilled me. My daughter could experience things I never had. And I could watch and enjoy it all vicariously. By learning to know my father as the grandpa of my daughter I can finally understand what a grandpa can be. I’m grateful my daughter has that privilege. I’m thankful I can watch them through the window of a mother’s eyes.
She has an advantage over me. She knows a man more sure of self, more seasoned, more relaxed, and more refined. Since I was the only daughter, every day was a new experience for my father. I’m sure each dawn brought trials or situations he wasn’t prepared for, or expecting. I did not come with an owner’s manual.
So my daughter finds a man much better prepared for little girls. His values are unwavering, but his perception of how to instill those values is deepened. She’s so much like me, this daughter mine. I wonder if he ever feels the sense of the present repeating the past, as I do when I look into their world? He knows how to respond to every situation with her. She’s come to know he expects complete respect for himself and those he loves. She knows obedience is very important to her grandfather. She works harder to remain obedient for him than for anyone else. She also discovered that inside his tough, no-nonsense exterior lives a velvet-lined soul.
She knows her grandpa loves: gentle breezes, toboggans, kites, wooded hills and every sunrise and sunset. She’s also observed that his love of family and of the Lord often brings tears to his sky blue eyes. He teaches her his values with action more often than words.
She’s comfortable with every facet of his personality. Her trust and understanding of him is complete. She knows him much better as a child of eight than I did. Not because of any fault of his, but because a daughter doesn’t truly appreciate a father until she’s much older. Grand daughters know instinctively their grandpas are a priceless gift.
I watch these two, as often as I can. My heart brims to overflowing as they embark on each adventure. Someday star-filled skies, a red pocket knife, kites, a blue Bronco, the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree, the scent of a campfire, or a whiff of Old Spice cologne will trigger memories of a cherished grandpa in the adult mind of my daughter. I love watching this man evolve into a Grandpa. Each moment of his time with my children is a treasure. My ache for the grandpa’s I never met is a little less now. I’ve decided that perhaps, I’m the luckiest after all. I finally know a grandpa (my daughter lets me share hers) I’m just twice blessed because I knew him first as Dad.
What smells or activities remind you of your father or grandpa? Did you have a grandpa, or do your children share theirs? Does your father spend special times with your children. What does that look like? What are some cherished experiences you've had with your father or grandfather? Download our Grandparents Story Starter to help you get started.
A national award-winning storyteller, historian and author, she is best known for her original works and recollections of life's experiences blended with history. Teresa has presented and performed throughout the United States. Of her, it has been said, "Charming, witty, soulful, and wise, her performances are filled with a compelling sense of wonder and an irresistable zest for life." Her story work involves performance, education, production, and advocacy. From the main stage to individual consultations in living rooms across America, she delights in the excavation and sharing of family story. Most importantly, she is a wife, mother, and grandmother to her favorite playmates and best friends.
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