For my wife, Barbara, and me, the move cross country to San Francisco had all the markings of the good life. We were going to live in one of the world's most romantic cities.
I had landed a publishing position covering an industry that symbolized adventure. I would report on the ocean shipping business, at times from ports I imagined shrouded in mystery and intrigue, at others from the bridge of a 900-foot container vessel bouncing like a toy in the roaring waters of the Pacific.
Adding to our charmed life, we soon learned our first child was on the way. We were thrilled. But my mom was ecstatic; the baby would be her first grandchild. By all measures, she would have made a 'great' grandmother. I knew it, Barbara felt it, and hundreds of people said so - at her funeral about a month later. Mom had died suddenly from a stroke.
Two sons and 24 years later, the pain is as acute as the day each boy was born - without their grandmother's presence. There was a happy outcome for us, though. Beverly, a woman I worked with who was exactly my mom's age, simply assumed the role of grandmother. And there was a bonus. She had six siblings, all in their 70s and 80s, all with children and grandchildren of their own; and all with plenty of welcoming room for us. For five years, we had dinner every Sunday at their family home. When Barbara and I wanted an evening out, we were in for an argument if we didn't drop the boys off with them.
One time, we returned from a weekend getaway to find that our youngest son had taken his first steps. He was only 8 1/2 months old, so we weren't expecting it. Beverly seemed a little embarrassed. But to this day, I swear our son had a look that said, 'You'll see me every day; I wanted to do this for 'Grandma' Beverly.'
In this issue of CAPPER'S, Kate Marchbanks dedicates the 'Heart of the Home' section to grandparents. Readers tell what it's like to be a grandparent or a grandchild. Judging from the poignant recollections and insights, the jury is still out on who feels more blessed - the grandparents or the grandchildren.
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