Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grandfathers and Bad Traditions

There's a bit of dialogue that always makes me grin whenever I watch A Hard Day's Night.  It involves a mischievous old man who's tagging along with The Beatles, and when asked about who he is, Paul tells the rest of the band that the man is his grandfather.

George: That's not your grandfather.
Paul: It is, you know.
George: But I've seen your grandfather. He lives in your house.
Paul: Oh, that's my other grandfather, but he's my grandfather, as well.
John: How do you reckon that one out?
Paul: Well, everyone's entitled to two, aren't they?

I'm not sure why this always amuses me.  It vaguely reminds me of talking with teenagers, as with some of them you have to spell everything out.  (Why am I picking on teenagers?  There are adults who are like this!)  The thought that John and George couldn't figure out that this man obviously must be Paul's other grandfather just doesn't occur to them.  Maybe it's the delivery, as The Beatles were all especially charismatic - especially in the early years.

There is something bittersweet about that bit of dialogue for me though.  Even though I find it endlessly amusing, it reminds me of the fact that I didn't really get what, according to Paul, I was entitled to have.  Sure, I have two grandfathers, but I didn't ever get to know either one of them.  My mother's father died when I was just a little guy, and I vaguely remember meeting him.  My father's father died when I was a teenager, but I never got to know him.  There are a few pictures of me as a youngster sitting with him, but he looks annoyed.  I asked my parents about this, worrying that I was a horrible little child who was hated by his grandfather.  They informed me that the problem was that he was basically drugged up and pretty much out of it, so therefore he wasn't even cognizant enough to be annoyed.  He suffered from mental health problems that either began with, or were exacerbated by his experiences fighting with the Marines during World War II.  This is main reason why I never got to know him, as we never visited him while he was in the hospital - and even if we did, he wouldn't have any idea who we were, as his condition had deteriorated so severely by the time he died.  (I sometimes wonder if I would take Logan to see my dad if the same thing happened to him.  I've decided that I'm glad that I don't have to make that decision.)

I mentioned to my dad once about how important it was to me that Logan would get to know both of his grandfathers since I didn't know either one of mine.  My dad informed me that he didn't know either of his either.  His mother's father died of black lung at the age of 40.  (He was a Spanish immigrant who worked in the coal mines.)  His father's father died in a tragic farming accident.  Apparently, my grandfather ALSO didn't know either one of his grandfathers.  In other words, this has been one long, crappy Johnson tradition that desperately needs to come to an end.

So, how is it working out so far?  Well, my dad lives several hours away, but as you can tell from the second photo on this entry, they sure seem to hit it off well when they do see each other.  I imagine as Logan gets older, he'll develop an even closer relationship with my dad.  The reason why is that my dad owns a ranch near Redding, California.  He already frequently plays host to my two nephews and to the granddaughters of his wife.  Surely Logan will be spending a few weekends there during summer breaks.  Basically, my dad is recreating some fond memories that he had when he would visit his relatives on a farm in Nebraska when he was a little kid, and that can only be a good thing.

My wife's father gets to see Logan much more often.  In fact, now that he's retired, he does daycare one day a week.  With just a tiny bit of jealousy, I must admit that this grandfather is probably Logan's favorite person in the world.  Whenever he sees Grandpa Howland, his eyes light up.  Whenever Grandpa's in the room, Logan gravitates right toward him.  Of course, the feeling is mutual.  My father-in-law had two girls, and he mentioned that he wanted a son, so Logan is just a tiny bit extra special to him for that reason.

I should probably mention that Logan has a bonus, third grandpa.  (Suck it, McCartney!)  The last time my mother and her boyfriend came to visit, Logan instantly gravitated toward him.  This is not so surprising, as the man is a bit of a kid-magnet.  My nephews love the guy as well.  Still, by the second day, when he came to the house, Logan ran toward him with his hands outstretched, looking for a hug.  (And yes, he did that for my mother as well - but truth be told, he went to her second.)  Obviously, this will be the grandpa that he'll see the least, but hey, it'll be more than I've seen my two grandfathers combined, so you can't complain about that.

Obviously, Logan has grandmothers as well, and we could even say that he has three.  He adores my mother-in-law, loves it when my mother does "Hoppe, Hoppe, Reiter" with him, and claps along to the Russian songs with my step-mother (and her mother as well!  I guess he has FOUR grandmothers!)  Let's also not forget that there are aunts and uncles - both family and honorary as well.

But this one's about the grandfathers.  The thing is, seeing him with any of these guys doesn't make me regret the fact that I didn't know mine, but it makes me realize that with having kids, sometimes you get to correct the mistakes of the past - even the kinds of mistakes that weren't anybody's fault.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lance, that was beautiful. Logan is a very lucky and special little man that has grandfathers that will always be there for him. How could you not love that little guy. I had a grandfather that loved me and I wanted to be with him all the time, and I was until his death when I was in the 6th grade. I still think of him and I know that we are still together.