To my favorite little man,
Right now you are running around our family BBQ and I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude. I am thankful for you, of course, but I am also so grateful for the loving family that surrounds you.
You are one of the lucky ones. You have three grandparents in your life, and if there were a template for perfect grandparents, they could be it.
Right now none of them live closer than a five-hour drive (more like six with you in the car), but I think you see them more than many kids whose grandparents live in the same state. The three of them were there to meet you the night you were born. They have logged countless travel miles to see you regularly even though we live way up here in Boston. They fill our mailbox with cards, pictures (so you can “see” your relatives regularly), and treats to brighten our days from across the miles. They make plans to spend a weekend with you when Mommy and Daddy go to a wedding you wouldn’t really enjoy. They pay attention to your snack and sippy cup preferences in pictures I post and order them before you arrive for a visit.
But that is just the beginning. Grandparents are so much more than providers of snail mail, sippy cups, and free babysitting. The true gift of grandparents lies in the way they shape the person you are — through genes, yes, but mostly by example.
You already have Grammy’s energy and zest for life; I hope you one day make every person feel valued the way she does. You already share Pops’ love of music; I hope you grow to have his listening ear. You already reflect Grandma’s quiet strength and determination; I hope you will be as generous with your time as she is. Each of them, in a unique way, shows you what it means to be a good person — one who makes the world better. Most importantly, they teach you that unconditional love exists beyond the walls of our apartment. They love you with a love that knows no boundaries, and I can see when you reach for them that you love them in return — you just don’t have a word for that feeling yet.
You also have a fourth grandparent who watches over you from heaven. He is the grandfather you will never meet in this lifetime, but it certainly doesn’t mean you won’t know him.
You pray to him every morning and point to his picture on Mommy’s shelf. More than that, you know him because he was my Daddy, and so much of who I am is because of him. You and I share his eyes and his love of french fries. He is the reason we dance after dinner like no one is watching, even when we’re not quite with the beat. He is the reason you have me to yourself all day. He taught me early on that the years you plan to have with your kids are not guaranteed, so I want to soak up every second. One day you’ll start school and I’ll have a career again, but for now, I don’t want to miss a day with you. Your grandparents are also the reason I understand how incredibly lucky I am to have that choice.
So as you frolic around the yard today pointing out every tree, garden gnome, and flower, I smile and think about the next holiday footprint painting we will send your grandparents’ way. I think about the day when you are a little older and want to pick out your own gifts to send. I think about the joy your grandparents will add to the big moments in your life. And I pray that I do my job in helping you understand just what a lucky grandson you are.