My frequent vignettes about grandparents might be mistakenly assumed to be thinly-veiled efforts to drum up greeting card business for National Grandparents Day, an observance proclaimed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.
The brainchild of a diminutive West Virginia woman, the recognition now occurs annually on the Sunday following Labor Day. Feeling that grandparents were relegated to afterthoughts most days of the year, the 5’3" mountain woman campaigned for years for the observance, investing both time and money. Hers was a "labor of love" as she sought more recognition for grandparents. She refused any material gain, turning down lucrative offers from greeting card companies. (Ideas continue to bloom, including designation of forget-me-nots as "official flowers.")
Marian McQuade lived to enjoy the holiday 30 times prior to her death at age 91, happy that her project was adopted both nationally and by several other countries. She died on September 26, 2008, 19 days after National Grandparents Day. Survivors include 15 children, 43 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. The 33rd observance will be on September 11, 2011, the date that also marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11….
I thought about this observance recently when Rev. Jim Gray, a granddad, told me the story of a "bad haircut." It was "my kind of story," but writing about it at the time could have been interpreted as a shameless attempt to stimulate greeting card purchases for National Grandparents Day.
I decided to write about it now for two reasons: 1) The next grandparents day observance is almost 50 weeks away, and 2) Gray’s story is a "twist" on the usual.
Instead of grandparents sharing "you won’t believe this" stories about their grandchildren at senior adult get-togethers, it could be two-year-olds in nurseries jabbering with delight over their first haircuts….
Truth to tell, Jim deserves a gold star for admitting what happened. Others of us attempting such would be crowned with many dunce caps in lieu of congratulations. A few weeks ago, the Grays’ only daughter, Linda, left her only child, Braylon, with her folks for the weekend.
Eager for his youngest grandson to be fastidiously groomed for church, Jim asked permission to trim the youngster’s hair. Braylon had sat in a barber’s chair just once, but needed a "trim" to look his best in the nursery the next day.
Linda agreed, but her mom, Kay, remained silently skeptical….
"I guess I had forgotten how fine a two-year-old’s hair is and how squirmy they can be," Jim confessed. "The ‘trim’ got a bit out of hand, but it didn’t look bad to me on Saturday night."
Twenty-four hours later, the person whose opinion mattered most—his daughter—disagreed. "She didn’t say anything, but the look on her face let me know she was appalled," he admitted. "I felt like a complete failure as a grandfather and as a father."
Sleeping fitfully, Jim sprang from his bed Monday morning to send Linda a text message….
"I’m sorry about the haircut. It did not turn out the way I planned."
He received an immediate reply: "It’s OK! I was just caught off guard! I still love you! It’s a BAD haircut, but it’s full of LOVE!" (That many exclamation points indicate absolute sincerity, don’t they?)
"I felt forgiven," Jim said. "And I insisted on paying the barber to repair the mess, relieved that it was she—and not I—who would tell the barber who administered the lousy haircut!"…
A final thought concerns the death of Englishman James Heseldenon, the Segway manufacturer who died recently after plunging off a cliff into a river on one of his two-wheeled conveyances. Headlines around the world are flooded with "plays-on-words," such as: "Segway owner segues."
Under the layers of triviality, though, are notable facts of his being a generous philanthropist and respected citizen. And no matter the irony, left behind to mourn the loss of this respected Englishman are his wife, children and grandchildren.
I opened this column with a twist, and shall close in the same manner, predicting that in the future, there’ll be admonitions going in two directions: From grandparents warning grandchildren to "be careful" on their two-wheeled vehicles, and youngsters extending the same warning to them….
Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.