Long, long ago, when I was in the sixth-grade, there was a boy in our class named Dennis. He was a nice enough kid as I remember, but what I remember mostly is that there was a rumor about him that his parents were divorced. I don't think I really knew what that meant. I had a friend whose father had died when my friend was seven. And I had met a boy whose father had been killed in The War. But divorce was something I had to ask my parents about. Dennis was okay, I was assured, it was probably not his fault his parents were, well, divorced.
Kay and I seemed to have done all right. We will soon be married 44 years, have five married children who seem to be as happy as this life affords. The only thing I ever wanted in life was to love my children and hopefully know they knew I loved each of them. As grandchildren came, I more-or-less approached these new additions to our family with the same want and hope.
The best years for grandkids are before they are five, when they still believe any silly thing granddaddy says. As they grow up they catch on to when granddaddy is teasing, and they somehow learn that the only excuse for keeping a granddaddy at all is to have someone extra whose only job is to love them.
About a year ago eight year old Abigail came into our life as ninth grandchild. She was part of the package we got when "I" picked out Steve as the best possible man for our only daughter. I suppose this makes us one of those "blended" families with which I have no practical experience. At the wedding Abby said she wasn't sure what to call me. She apparently already had both a grandfather and a grandpa. Since she didn't have a granddaddy, I volunteered for the job (I've always preferred granddaddy, anyhow).
Abby is a bright, "busy" child who has perfected the art of bugging her daddy (a very necessary ingredient in daddy training). My problem is she didn't have the marvelous opportunity to know me for those previous eight years. The sad result being she doesn't get my weird, obtuse humor. So I never know if she knows when I'm teasing; nor am I sure she understands I only tease people I love. Loving Abby is a most natural thing for me; it's what she generates in me and who I am. I guess I just selfishly want to know that she knows that I love her.
When our daughter, Susan, was in grade school she reported one day she was the only one in her class with no "steps" -- no stepsisters, stepbrothers, nothing. The world had changed a lot since my grade school days. I don't know whether or not it has changed for the better, but I shall try hard to change with it.
Dear Abby, I love you,
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.