Harper in action.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

There're Grandparents and Then There're Great-Grandparents

Not long after Harper was born we undertook a very challenging trip to Cleveland. Due to a couple of different factors we chose to take a train. No wait, we took an Amtrak. I want to make the distinction because Amtrak is in a class by itself. But please don’t mistake that statement for a compliment.

Riding the Amtrak from Los Angeles to Cleveland is no joke. It’s about 56 hours including a four-hour layover in Chicago. Harper was three weeks old, McCall was still in serious pain from her C-section, and I spent my first Father’s Day staring out the window as New Mexico turned into Colorado which itself turned into Kansas. You may wonder what would spur such insanity in brand new parents. What was so important that we would attempt such an ambitious trip after less than a month of child rearing experience? The question isn’t “What?” but “Who?”


Gram and Gramp with a "yawning" Harper




We took the trip so that Harper could meet her great-grandparents, Gram and Gramp Sanders. Or rather so they could meet her. It wasn’t really an option for them to come to LA and since I was on paternity leave, we figured we’d strike while the iron was hot. My parents visited us shortly before we planned the trip and encouraged us to go even if the thought was a little nuts, even if we didn’t really have the money. My mom told us of how they had gone into debt to take my two older brothers and me to the East coast when we were young to meet my dad’s parents. She emphasized how important that trip was for them, how they never regretted it even as they had to overcome the financial burden afterwards. That trip still retains very important memories for me. Primarily because it was the only time I met my grandfather.

It was with the same attitude of purposeful sacrifice that we watched the country slowly lumber by. The money wasn’t important; in 30 years we won’t even know what it cost. The discomfort and pain wasn’t important; in 40 years we won’t even remember what hurt. The meeting was important, the togetherness. In 50 years we’ll still remember when Harper met her great-grandparents. And when they were introduced to the fourth generation of their lineage. What an amazing privilege! I pray that we will be so blessed.

Gram and Gramp are amazing people. They are brilliant and funny, considerate and generous. I love being around them. They are truly inspiring not only in their longevity, but in how they still so obviously love and care for each other after almost 70 years of marriage. I pray that we will be so blessed.

During our rehearsal dinner, I remember looking over at the Sanders family table and seeing them all gathered together. As a man, I imagined what it must be like for Gramp to sit there and look across at generation after generation. A living heritage that he and his beautiful wife begat. I pray that we will be so blessed.

I feel just like my parents did about their trip. I have no regrets. It was so important, not just to us, but to Gram and Gramp as well. They wanted so badly to meet Harper and we made it happen. Even if Harper never has the opportunity to see them again, even if she never remembers the trip, we’ll have the pictures to show her. She can see how her great-grandparents held her, cradled her, and gently rocked her. She can see the love in their eyes and understand for herself why the trip was so important.

Gramp and Harper

Today is Gramp’s 90th birthday. And I dedicate this entry to him on such a significant day. Gramp, thank you for being such an amazing father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Thank you for giving me such a spectacular wife in your granddaughter. Thank you for seeing us off on our honeymoon, for chatting by the grill, and for dinner at “your” table at the yacht club. But perhaps most importantly, thank you for providing the line that joins together with my own to help complete the mosaic of our now unified family. You are truly a great, grand father.

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