My grandfather is turning 90 tomorrow. (Truth to tell, it might even be today: I’m not good with dates.) And as it is our practice to spend a few moments every night counting our blessings, this post is dedicated to Gramps.
I am grateful for the childhood summers I got to spend in Yosemite National Park, where Gramps served for 30+ years as the Park’s dentist. Vermont is already a pretty great and gorgeous place to grow up, and on top of that, I got to spend at least two weeks per year in one of the most spectacular wilderness areas on the planet.
I am grateful for the time Gramps spent with me during those summer visits, the walks and hikes and bike rides we shared, the raft rides down the Merced River, the sailing outings at Tenaya Lake, and the quieter at-home afternoons we’d spend in companionable silence on the patio, reading our separate books.
I am (selfishly) grateful that I am the oldest grandchild, and I had so many years of these special visits, when Gram and Gramps were still young and spry and active, and I didn’t have to compete for attention with siblings and cousins.
I am grateful that in all those years of riding around with Gramps on the Park’s narrow, twisty roads with only a guardrail wire or perhaps some scrubby pines separating our car from a precipitous drop to a near-certain death, I never got carsick.
I am also grateful that it took me until I reached my 30s to realize that Gramps’ devil-may-care approach to motoring, especially on those Sierra highways, is absolutely terrifying. I’m grateful we’re alive.
I am grateful that my grandparents, though they live on the other side of the country, made a point to never miss a single major milestone in my life: they attended all of my graduations from high school to law school, and they flew east with all my aunts and uncles for the wedding when I married Penelope, even though it was less than a month after September 11, 2001, and everyone was afraid to fly.
I understand that it has become too much for them to travel so far, these days, and from now on I must bring my milestones to them. I am grateful for the opportunity to introduce Hank to his Great Gramps (and Great Gram), and hope very much that my children-yet-to-be-born get the same chance.
Happiest of birthdays, dear, dear Gramps. You are so very loved.