This report arrives later than it should have. Whether from octogenarian ennui or fear of sounding like the arrogant braggart I detect others have thought of me, the events herein celebrated occurred months ago. They are events celebrating the accomplishments of a generation once removed. And we are proud, extremely proud, (and any fair-minded soul might say, justifiably proud) of Henry, Jack, Robert, and Ben.
Twenty years ago the twins, Henry and Robert, enjoyed nothing better than emptying the kitchen cabinets of pots and pans, strewing them about the linoleum, and raising a ruckus characteristic of most preacher's kids, infamous for their high intensity shenanigans inside the house with glass walls, this one on West Fairview Avenue in Valley Stream NY. And someday get me to tell you, if I haven't already, about the December morning, when readying the nave for the Christmas services, said twins quietly and thoroughly emptied every bench's communion cup rack of their silencers (rubber grommets); which, when I discovered their removals, necessitated my personal reinstallation, a process that earned me thumb blisters.
Jack and Ben's mom spared me their mischief by remaining six hours away in another house near Baltimore. But they too have had their endearing and maddening moments, just not near enough for me to chronicle them.
Now three of the four are embarking on careers. The fourth, Ben, matriculates this fall as a first year student at Wake Forest. Brother Jack begins work with a company in Washington DC that sells and arranges outdoor advertising. Robert contracted for two years as a para-legal with Cravath Swaine & Moore in Manhattan. Henry took his MCAT in early July and begins his applications for medical school, working in the interim as a chem tutor and a researcher.
We understand that our grandparenting of these boys is not over... nor would we want it to be. Fact is, now that they have become human and are willing to talk with us (and critically and civilly disagree with us) we rather enjoy them, every bit as much and more as when they were in their pan banging and communion-cup-silencer-stealing period... which era seems like only yesterday.
For Robert's graduation I had to park the car a quarter of a mile away from the science quad, in front of St. Patrick's Church in Williamstown MA. As I climbed the hill toward the graduation site, I stopped maybe four times, mostly to catch my breath and ease my back. It's a hill I have climbed a hundred times earlier in my life, but never before with such an acute awareness of my mortality. The distance between twenty-two and eighty-two must seem an eternity to members of the Class of 2014. But, as the good book reminds us, in God's eyes (and the eyes of those whose age draws them nearer to God) "a thousand years are but as yesterday when it is past."
Swiftly and ever more swiftly time passes.
The prayer of this proud grandparent for these four graduates is that they may fill their time on earth with useful work and loving relationships; and that in retirement they may be as blessed as Grammy and Poppy/Pa were with children to present them with grandchildren to dote on.