This week the relatives descend and the friends gather. Our daughter Haley will be at full furious trhottle. All activity will reach its climax on Friday when our grandson, Russell, graduates high school from Colorado Springs Christian School. Jean-Marie and I are all in for the festivities, but for the moment I just want to relax with my thoughts and enjoy the peace of the past.
This past begins almost nineteen years ago when Russell was sheltered in his mother’s womb as she was sheltered beneath our roof. First time motherhood can be a scary thing to face, and we wanted to support Haley without taking charge or becoming a crutch. Jean-Marie came up with the idea of turning our old detached two-car garage (25’x25’) into a cottage that Haley could live in and be the independent mom she wanted and needed to be, but with love and support only fifty feet away. It was a small space, and designing it into a home was no small feat. I would love to say I helped, that I put my engineering skills to architectural use, but that would be a lie. The brain trust of Jean-Marie and Marc and Dennis attacked the problem with a passion. Ideas were floated back and forth, sketches developed and tossed, until one evening at a restaurant it all came to together and the final plan was etched onto a paper napkin.
Russell was born and came home from the hospital to that warm and lovely cottage. In the blink of an eye, mother and father were mystically transubstantiated to our grandparent identities of GiGi and Bumpa as surely as host and wine become flesh and blood. I feel the name GiGi reflects my wife’s vitality and spirit. I feel my name Bumpa (so conferred upon me by Russell’s Godfather his beloved Uncle Marc) accurately captures my roundness – and I have no complaints.
Russell lived fifty feet away for his first five years. Five years that spoiled GiGi and I greatly. Though (with one rare exception) he has never lived further than fifteen minutes from us, the difference between a few feet away and a few miles away has always felt huge. As huge as the eighteen years we have shared and witnessed with Russell.
For eighteen years, our hearts have ached with love for this young man. They are eighteen years of full memories that have passed in an instant. I can still feel the weight of him as a baby on my chest as we napped on the sofa. I can still see his small infant’s hand blindly searching the edge of my desk trying to feel for my phone as I worked and he scooted around my office in his walker. I see him well behaved and helping (as best as a child can) his GiGi as we delivered flowers to a wedding or party. I smile as I remember trying to explain to Russell that I could not take him to the Christmas Parade because I had thrown my back out and could not drive (he dropped to his little knees and cried, “Bumpa, I am so humiliated!”). I see him as Cub Scout, and Weeblo, and Boy Scout. I see us when called upon taking him to and picking him up from elementary school, middle school, and high school (the same high school that is releasing him this Friday to his academic future). I see my little buddy grow before my mind’s eye until he now stands above me, smiling.
I can’t write down all that I remember, there is not enough room. And I do not expect you the reader to expend your valuable patience for such a deluge as written by a middle-aged man who sees time continually speeding up about him. The ending to this blog will be the same regardless of how many words are piled on top of it. So in conclusion, in this time of quiet reflection, GiGi and Bumpa thank our daughter Haley for raising a young man so well, for making the right choices, for making the necessary sacrifices, and giving her son as solid a footing as anyone could ask for. We love you.
To Mike, Haley’s husband, GiGi and Bumpa thank you for a being a role model. Helping to teach Russell not only how to work hard, but also teaching him some of the manly arts involved as household handyman. We have watched you as a loving husband and loving step-father. We have watched you proudly as mentor and friend to our grandson. We love you.
Russell, our grandson, GiGi and Bumpa could never be able to express in words that are more eloquent than our smiles or tears of joy to say how much we love you, how proud we are of you, how much we look forward to your future. From the moment you began to talk, you were a person of astounding vocabulary. From the first puzzle you put together, you evinced a mind that was agile and flexible. From the first gift you gave, you proved yourself thoughtful and loving and caring. There is a renaissance man within you, a maturity beyond your years, a versatility of talents that are inspiring, and love that is both gentle and fierce. Before us we no longer see the crawling child. We see now the tall handsome young man going off to Colorado State University and out into the world. Please know we will always be here for you no matter what. Your GiGi and Bumpa love you.