Our granddaughter, Calliope, will be going home today, having spent almost two weeks with us while her parents were in Alaska. We have fallen in love with this small person, who eats practically nothing, hears instructions selectively, and has more energy than we can bottle. Yet I was the last person who looked forward to grandfatherhood. For one thing, I wasn't old enough. For another, I had thrown my life into raising my own children. I still do – and they are still my reason for being every bit as much as I am, literally, theirs.
So how could I possibly have the time, the energy, even the love for the next generation? I had the rest of my life to lead.
But I now see that my role is different. As a father, I was intent on my children – on loving them, on helping them grow, on protecting them from harm, on preparing them to go out into the world – ever conscious that my desire to protect them from the world might be a disadvantage in preparing them for the world.
It is Calliope’s parents’ role to prepare her for the world. Mine is to use whatever wisdom I have acquired and whatever energy I have left to prepare the world for her.
Maybe we have the cycle of life backwards. The young must navigate the world as they find it. It is up to us, who have been through that, to change the world, in whatever small ways we can, so it becomes a little closer to the kind of place we wanted it to be when we were young.