By Ernie McCray
I just discovered that National Grandparents Day came and went. I don’t know what that’s all about but it’s gotten me thinking about grandparenting.
I’ve been doing a lot of it lately, hanging out with a little two-year old who calls me Grampy and his little sister.
And my mind goes back in time, to August of ’76 when I became a Grampy for the first time. The journey puts a smile on my face. But I was, in no way, grinning when I got the news that I had a grandchild on the way. I mean, I was 38 and my daughter was 19. Chip off the old block it seemed. But, hey, whatcha gonna do?
You jump in there with your daughter, is what you do, and the two of you sign up for Lamaze and the like so you can learn a thing or two together and bond like you never had before and get ready for a new member on your Family Tree. With a smile on your face if that’s a possibility.
But there’s a lot for Grampy to smile about when he looks back over his times with his eleven grandchildren.
Take Cedric, the one I just alluded to, the first. I remember being out with him one day, when he was a toddler, thinking he was right behind me, only to turn around and find out that we was heading in the direction of some kind of danger (I don’t remember what) and he took off at a speed I wasn’t prepared for and I was running him down like he was a crook who had stolen a priceless heirloom from me. A few years later I saw that speed in blazing legs of the 1500 meter relay for his high school track team. Can you imagine the mile wide smile on my face, a jock myself, as I sat in the stands watching my grandson run in a race?
Then along came his sister, Denisha, with the biggest laugh in the Milky Way, born rather cosmically, it seems to me, exactly three months after the birth of my twin girls, her aunts. She’s brought so many smiles my way. Especially when she and her brother, Andre, stepped up to the plate when their mother needed them after suffering a massive coronary.
It was nice watching Andre grow as a basketball player when we and another grandson used to shoot hoops in the park. Smiles all around in those moments.
Still on basketball, I can see, in my mind’s eye, my granddaughter, Toya, in her “take no prisoners” style of playing the game, scratching and crawling for rebounds, and flicking outlet passes for explosive fastbreaks for the Hoover High Cardinals. And I’m cheering madly in my seat, sky high – and I can see her pursuing and earning a college degree, and evolving into a wise thinker and doer, posting thoughts on facebook like “All God’s children are related… one love” – well, that just sends a smiley vibration all through me. Social work, I think, was a wise move on her part because she has a loving and caring heart.
Then there’s her brother, Little Guy, a young man who changes religions, seemingly, with each day the earth revolves around the sun, seeking answers to things way beyond my comprehension. Makes you smile, though. Sometimes.
And Kinya. She’s a single mother of four, and she makes me smile simply because she’s so resolute and bright and ambitious and hardworking and God fearing, plugging away, making a way for her family. She’s an inspiration to me.
Brandon: such a survivor, having overcome a tragedy and other obstacles and then going on with his life to graduate from UCSD and learn Mandarin and travel to exotic places faraway. His sound business mind, alone, makes me break out with a smile.
I have ingrained images in my mind of Marlon and Brandi that make me smile because of the artistry that resides in them, images of him hip-hopping to some bumping and popping sounds on the School of Creative and Performing Arts’ stage, while girls scream in their seats from the heat of his good looks and the way he moves to a beat.
And coming into view is Brandi, just ever so soulfully, with grace that seems her very own, dancing on that same stage as though it’s such a natural place to be, like a bird taking flight or a dolphin surfing in the sea. It’s truly something to see…
Marlon, now, moving comfortably within the modeling industry… Got to smile, it seems to me…
And now Lyric and Marley. A two-year old and a three month old. When I’m in their company it’s like I’m at Smiles R Us.
They and the other nine of their kind are the reasons for Grampy’s smiley face.