Becoming a Great-Grandfather.
I got to know my great-grandmother for a fraction of a second. My mom’s grandmother, Ethel, was a stately woman, a matriarch who believed that “children should be seen but not heard.” Honestly, I can’t say I remember a conversation with her. And then, poof, she was gone.
Today life has changed. With increased longevity and alternative family arrangements, more and more of us will become great-grandparents. Kenneth W. Wachter, the Chairman of the Department of Demography at the University of California, Berkeley, has estimated that by 2030, more than 70 percent of 8-year-olds will likely have a living great-grandparent. And we may have a more substantial impact on our great-grandchildren than ever before. According to the Census Bureau, there are now nearly 100,000 U.S. households with four generations living together.
My experience of family is unusual. I have two biological sons, Eli (10) and Ethan (7), with their two moms, Laura and Susan. Fortunately, given the expanding definition of a modern family, our sons love their three parents...me being one of them.
I also became a foster dad 33 years ago (I was 28) to an inner-city teenager I’d been mentoring through a YMCA Youth program. My foster son eventually had three kids. I spent quite a bit of time with his two boys until they were in their late teens. Grandpa Chip still dominated them on the basketball court.
Now, my oldest grandson lives in New Mexico with his girlfriend and their two-and-a-half-year-old son Zaeshawn, who is the classic 21st-century child—a beautiful mixture of African-American, Native American, and Caucasian ancestry. And, yes, that makes me a great-grandfather (beaming smile and all). Now, because I’m in Santa Fe quite a bit, I’ve spent increasing time with my great-grandson, including hanging out with him yesterday on Easter searching for eggs.
All things being equal, I expect I’ll be a great-great-grandfather by the time I reach my parent’s age, 84.
Ahhh, the joy of being a Triple-G.