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September 5, 2000

We're just back from one of those periodic weekend trips to visit our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren in Kansas City, and yes (to anticipate your question) everything is still up to date there. What made this trip so special was the opportunity it provided to share in the joy of ushering our one and only grandson into that near adulthood stage known as "teen-ager."

Can this actually be happening? Was it really 13 years ago when we peered at that pitiful little form in a neo-natal intensive care unit? We looked on helplessly as he clung precariously to the life he had just begun, while his mother fought off an equally insidious blood disorder that accompanied the unexpectedly early birth. It's true. The calendar does not lie. Tom and his mom both survived that shaky episode. Only yesterday, it seems, he weighed in at slightly more than three pounds. Today he is an athletic, growing boy, wolfing down generous helpings of his favorite foods. He is a five-foot, four-inch, 115-pound bundle of seemingly endless energy who soon will be the tallest member of our family. A pitcher and shortstop for his little league baseball team, good at both soccer and basketball, a drummer in the school band and a promising pianist. On the Saturday we were there, he arose early and rode his brand new birthday bike 11 miles before playing a baseball game in triple digit heat that afternoon. A teen-ager!

Thinking back to that scary, tumultuous beginning, and gazing upon him today, we can only again give thanks for answered prayers. Now we have three more beautiful grandchildren to adore and enjoy, and two of them live right here in Perry with their mom (our daughter) and their dad. We have known dark moments, including the loss of a tiny baby girl, in this process of regeneration and through that we have come to appreciate the miracle that accompanies each new life.

We waited longer to have grandchildren than some of our friends, but now that there are four of them to brag about it only seems that the restrained impatience we felt without them was worth the wait. They give us such joy, such feeling of family continuity. If you have some, you know what I am struggling to say. Is it enough just to say, "Thank you?" No, much more is warranted, but it will have to do for now.

We celebrate what each of them will achieve in the magic years that await their maturity, through childhood, teen-agehood and beyond into wonderful lives of their own crafting and design. To be there, standing on the sidelines and cheering them on with whatever encouragement our presence and our words can offer, perhaps through that they will sense what they mean to us, their grandparents.