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Published October 29, 2011, 11:30 PM

Zaleski: Other grandparents point the way

Last week’s column about boycotting news and walking in the Vermont woods with my triplet granddaughters resonated with the aging hearts of other grandparents.

By: Jack Zaleski, INFORUM

Last week’s column about boycotting news and walking in the Vermont woods with my triplet granddaughters resonated with the aging hearts of other grandparents. And not just spending time with grandchildren but also happily retreating from the workaday world.

This, from an old (aren’t we all?) high school friend on the East Coast:

“Hey, Jack, you hit it on the head about getting away from the hectic life,” he wrote. “I’m not retired either, but I’m really enjoying my grandkids. Hell, I gotta tell you, I wasn’t all that ready to be called a grandfather – seemed the end of the line or something like that. But it’s not that at all. It’s a beginning, isn’t it? It’s great. But, like you, I think to make it work you have to junk all the other stuff – you know, all the stuff you’ve been doing all your life…”

A reader in rural North Dakota:

“I’m a great-grandfather, so I guess I’m a lot older than you,” he said in a long and pleasant telephone conservation.

“When I became a grandfather, I kept on working on the farm. Didn’t want to give it up. So I didn’t spend a lot of time with the grandkids. They weren’t close by, and I didn’t want to travel ’cause of the farm.

“But now, with the great-grandkids, I’ve left the farm behind – or maybe the farm has left me behind because I can’t do the work like I want,” he laughed.

“So the grandkids and the great-grandkids come up here, and we have a nice time – and I don’t worry about the farm work anymore. Well, a little, but I can leave it now, when I couldn’t before. It’s those two great-grandkids that keep me goin’. Wish I had more time, but at my age… well, you know how it is when you get to be 90.”

From a reader in Hawley, Minn.:

“Don’t wait. Don’t put it off like I did. Don’t keep working so long that you run out of time for family,” she said.

“They keep on growin’ up, you know. They don’t wait. Before you know it, they’re gone – not kids anymore, but adults with their own lives and no time for grandparents – or worse, grandparents get so old and sick it’s too late …”

I sensed loss in that last response to the column. A warning? A lesson?

I’m learning. Setting aside my news obsession wasn’t all that difficult. The time with three amazing little girls in the verdant Vermont hills was a new slice of life I liked a lot. I’m learning …


Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at (701) 241-5521.

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