By Dr Dennis Acop
Life is a journey. It is a series of phases. There is a time for everything in life. A time to be born. Time to grow up. To raise a family. To work. The clock ticks and just keeps on ticking. Then suddenly it becomes time to retire. And luckily for some, there is grandparenthood. That part of life which I now feel the itch to write about. And exactly where I am now in my journey.
I became a grandparent six years ago. It was like I was destined to be by my first grandson’s side when he was born. I still do not know today why I had felt the urge to leave early from a colleague’s house-blessing party that evening. Only to find my son-in-law opening our house-gate exactly as I was arriving from a two-hour drive home. My daughter was about to give birth prematurely following a delicate pregnancy. Fortunately, the nearest hospital was only a kilometer away from the house. I volunteered to drive my daughter and son-in-law to the OR with my now late wife in tow.
After just an hour of waiting, we heard a baby’s cry. We were fortunate to know an OB who worked at the hospital and who was a parish colleague. Her competence saw our little girl through her difficult pregnancy and delivered her little boy healthy though premature. The tiny but brave boy had to stay behind in the incubator for a couple more days before we could finally bring him home.
The joy of having a grandchild is beyond any much like what I felt when I got married or saw my first child. The feeling was exactly like how my grandparent-friends, whom I envied, had described. It was never the same for me since then. There is just that indescribable joy when I look at and spend time with my grandson. My longing for him especially grew after they left a few weeks later to live Down Under. But I would see my grandson in intermittent visits either in Manila or Mandurah as time went by.
How can I not miss my grandson when he was my adventure buddy ever since he was little. We would take long walks or drives together. When he was still tiny, I would cuddle him in my arms propped against my right chest as we walked. When he was bigger, he liked to ride on my shoulders even for hours at times falling asleep. I knew he was asleep as I could feel his jaw dropping on the top of my head as we walked. There was one time we were together like this at the Creery Wetlands in the Spring of 2017 and I felt euphoric as that time had been a difficult period for my family.
I could watch over him play at the playgrounds and just love every moment. We would ride the bus or train together where his eyes lit up at the wonders we passed and his words never ceased asking. That inquisitiveness showed especially keen when we both visited Perth Zoo in the Summer of 2019 and life-sized dinosaurs stood around. Then we both watched the New Year fireworks over Perth and he was hyper after having eaten ice cream. And how we had to walk two kilometers back after to the train station as public rides became scarce. Him on my shoulders! The tough kid he is. I would ask if he was tired and he always said No. But he slept all the way through in the train ride home. I would play with him. Watch him sleep in my arms. Feed him. Clean him. Spoil him. And loved every moment.
His younger brother came two years ago. I was likewise fortunate to be around my daughter’s family when he came into the world. I would do the same with him as his older brother. The other year’s Christmas and New Year’s had been a treat as the whole family was at my daughter’s. On late afternoons, I would take my two grandsons out for a walk to the nearby playground. Since there were two of them now, I could not carry both. So at times, the smart First-Born would prefer to remain in the house to play. He who always liked to be carried on the shoulders. Second-Born is growing up so fast now too. He likes to dance too like dad, mum, and Kuya. He is a sturdy little fellow who acts like a Ranger that his Lolo is. Both are so handsome and so smart. I see their videos. And miss them even more. Visiting them is always a retirement goal for this retiree.