Letter: Hooray – I’ll be a Grandpa Soon

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This Father’s Day marks the end of an era for me. By this time next month, I will have graduated to the Grandpa Club.  I realize this is familiar territory for many of my guy pals; but at 73, the arrival of my first grandchild clearly will be something special.

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I always knew I’d have children. Maybe this is why I joined the future teachers’ club in high school or graduated from USC in the School of Education.  Three grown children and two daughters-in-law later, I’m very happy being a dad.

Becoming a first-time grandparent is going to be different. That’s because when my two sons and daughter were born, I figured I had 30, 40, or 50 years to spend with them. That won’t be the case with my granddaughter. So, what do I want for her? First and foremost, health.  Second, joy. Third, a sense of purpose. And, yes, a profound love for her partner in life.

Over the years, I have apologized to my kids for the mess my “peace and love” generation has left them. We were supposed to be the ones to end war and clean up the environment. Clearly, neither has happened.

For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the use of nuclear weapons is being discussed in Moscow, Kyiv, and Washington, D.C. You don’t have to look half-way around the globe to find damaged ecosystems thanks to “man-made” engineering problems gone awry.  Just ask the residents of Santa Barbara whose beaches were fouled for years by a major offshore oil spill in 1969, or the good people of Flint, Mich., whose city water supply was seriously contaminated with lead in 2014.

Closer to Seattle, where my granddaughter will be growing up, she may see major changes in her lifetime to Bainbridge or Whidbey Islands. Many experts predict that, because of rising sea levels, much of their footprints could be underwater by the time my baby granddaughter becomes a grandmother. If that happens, I wouldn’t blame her if she whispers one day, “Thanks for the mess, grandpa.”

But between then and now, there is a lot of life to live.

In the movie, “Forrest Gump,” there is the now-famous line, “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.” That won’t be the case with my granddaughter. She is going to be surrounded by loving parents, as well as supportive aunts, uncles, cousins and, of course, grandparents. My guess is she is going to have a sweet life. Believe me, I’m looking forward to sharing a box of chocolates with her.

Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach

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