The Patience to Just Be

Jim Wilson finds out he has got what his grandson needs most from him.

My sister died in December. A month later, my oldest son called to tell me I was going to be a grandfather. It is hard to describe the feeling of going from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs.

My story is not unlike many. As a young dad, I spent way too much time trying to make a living and taking care of what I thought was important and not near enough time on what truly is important. I didn’t realize until almost too late that my sons needed me to just “be.” As I’ve grown older, I knew that there is only so much time we have on this earth and I needed to pull my head out of my ass.

During the pregnancy, my daughter in law invited me to the ultrasound. At first I declined, but as the date came closer, I called and asked if the invite was still available. Not quite sure what to expect, I went. Even thought I saw my grandson on the monitor, and was happy, I was caught off guard when I heard his heartbeat. The tears came quickly as I listened to his racing heartbeat. Both my son and daughter-in-law looked at me with the WTF look. It became real in my mind at that moment. On the ride home, I became terrified that whatever mistakes I had made raising my boys would be magnified with their kids. It was an overwhelming fear. As time went by, the fear gradually faded and was replaced with a desire to offer as much “advice” as I felt they needed. They were both good sports about this little phase I was going through.

When my son placed my grandson in my arms, the tears again started and my knees started to buckle and the charge nurse gently placed a chair behind me, so I would hurt her “charge.” He and I share a first and middle name.

Four years later, my son and his family live in another town and it is a 3-4 hour trip depending on the time of the year. I was making a day trip to see my kids and it was not going well. A ruined tire during the first hour and the hassle of taking care of it caused me to be even later than I wanted. Then electrical problems surfaced and trip slowed even more. Once I arrived, my grandson was taking his nap, so my son and I started working on the truck, trying to get it ready for my return trip later that night. When his nap was through, my grandson came out to be with us and hang out. As I inflated the spare tire to the proper psi, my grandson came up to me and laid his head on my shoulder and just watched.

There is such a peace that comes from that simple act. As I write this, tears are streaming down my cheeks. And I know everything is going to work out.

My dad was Papa to his grandchildren. I’m a Papa Jim. Papa Jim is what he calls me.


Read more on Grandfatherhood on The Good Life.

Image credit: Neeta Lind/Flickr

About James Wilson

Jim Wilson lives in the high desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He's a 51 year father of two and a grandfather of two. He works with a commercial construction company and teach commercial construction part time at the local community college. Since he's a fool living in the desert, he also teaches scuba diving.

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