He calls me Chuck.
My little six year grandson calls me Chuck, not grandpa. Nobody knows why, but he’s always done that, for both of his grandpas. His other grandpa is “Buddy Chuck” and I’m “Chuck Schmitt.” His grandma’s are called grandma but but something funny seems to have happened on the way to grandpa. He calls my son Micah “Uncle Nut” but that’s actually a fairly accurate name. I’m not sure where Chuck came from.
There is some precedent in the family history for this. My mother, when she was just over a year old, went with her older brother to live with her grandparents. They couldn’t pronounce “grandma” or “grandpa” and it came out “Gangi and Bompi.” I called them that the whole time I was growing up. So it could be worse. Chuck sounds a whole lot younger than Bompi.
Being at the hospital when my grandson was born was a strange experience. There was a group of us, my daughter-in-law’s parents, my wife and I and two of my sons, huddled outside the door of the birthing room trying to hear whatever we could. Mostly we heard the groans of my poor daughter-in-law, but finally we heard the nurse say “It’s a boy.” There was an audible shiver of excitement hearing that he had arrived. Of, course, he was there the whole time but now we would get a chance to hold him.
I remember my first glimpse at him. The door to the room was opened as nurses went in and out and I looked in and saw my son standing in the corner of the room looking into the bassinet that held his son. He was just staring at him and running his finger over his head. I felt jealous.
That’s one of the aspects of becoming a grandfather that you don’t anticipate. It reminds you of what you’ve lost. I’ve always remembered the thrill of being there when my sons were born, but at this moment I felt it again. And all I could do was watch. It was really a proud moment watching my son with his son, but it was also very melancholy. It hit home just how gone those days were, relegated now to bin of pleasant memories.
His other grandparents and I got together last year and recorded a storybook for my grandson as a Christmas present. It was a lot of fun and we hope it lasts so he can hear our voices long after we’re gone. And that’s the trouble. You think more about being gone. So it is a different role being the grandparent than I originally thought it would be. You are at the same moment celebrating the next generation and being reminded that your own time has passed.
Not that there isn’t still a lot of life left to live. My grandson is also a constant reminder of how blessed I’ve been to have a family and to watch them grow. It was a lot of fun. He’s a lot of fun, and he brings back a lot of forgotten times. That’s great.
So he can continue to call me Chuck as long as he wants. Just as long as he calls.