The past few days have been spent with Grandpa (aka: Granddad, Papa) Alex, Charlie's Dad.
As I'm writing this ... there is turmoil in our home. Charlie and I are divided on how we are supposed to refer to his Dad, now that we have children. Even though there are 10 grand children in Charlie's family, apparently there is no clear consensus on the appropriate nomenclature for "Grandfather".
Really ... it's little surprise that there are so many names for one person. Papa's first name isn't even Alex. It's George. Yet, he was Confirmed Alex, and that name has stuck with him for the better part of his life. My husband is actually William Charles. But, his family calls him "Guy" and all of his friends call him "Charlie". Only telemarketers call him "William" and sometimes, they'll shorten it to "Bill". That's when I know to hang up, straight away.
For the purpose of this posting, I'll refer to Charlie's Dad as Papa. Because, that's what I call him ... and since I'm the one that updates the blog ... I win.
We had a wonderful time seeing Papa. Charlie got to spend some quality time with his Dad which included playing 9-holes of golf yesterday morning (Charlie shot a birdie on his last hole, not bad considering he hasn't played golf in four years) - and going on a shopping excursion to Costco yesterday afternoon. The babies got to crawl all over their Papa ... and I had a chance to talk with a man who would undoubtedly be my first choice for a "life-line" if I ever made it on to the game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"
Papa is a wonderful story teller and we learned some interesting things about him while he was visiting...
We learned that during his summers growing up in Toronto, Canada ... he was a golf caddy. Carrying two (2) bags for 18 holes ... would earn him a hefty 65 cents. The Canadian conversion for 65 cents, is a little less than a Loony. (Or is it a Toony?) Considering the year was 1942 ... that was pretty good money.
We learned that Papa is a World War II buff. In large part, because he and his Dad, who was a veteran of World War I (in the Canadian Corps of Engineers), would sit and listen to the radio together, every night.
We learned that as a boy growing up, he loved to play football and ... and as a true-blue Canadian, he loved to play hockey, the most. We learned that when he was at University studying for his degree in Electrical Engineering ... he played intramural sports.
We heard again, the wonderful story about how Papa had met Charlie's mom (Jeanne). How both of their father's had worked for the same company ... and during Papa's apprenticeship in America, the two were introduced. Slowly but surely, Jeanne fell for Papa and the two were married. Susan came along shortly thereafter ... and George came two years after Susan. Steve was seven years later ... and then William Charles (aka: Charlie or "Little Guy") arrived five years after Steve.
We learned that Papa's Mother absolutely loved babies. If she were still here today, she would be in heaven having our triplets to play with. When Susan was born, we learned that there were hurt feelings when Papa's Mother stepped in to do things "her way" and Jeanne protested. (That doesn't sound familiar. Not at all.)
We learned that Papa and Jeanne's decision to move to Santa Barbara was because after having lived in Canada, Illinois and Ohio ... they were sick of shoveling snow. We also learned that Papa loves real maple syrup ... and was dismayed to hear his son won't touch the stuff.
We talked about how devastating it was for him to lose Jeanne, after 40-years of marriage. When she died in 1992, at 62-years of age from a brain tumor ... he felt completely alone. We talked about how after losing a loved one - life goes on. Whether we want it to, or not.
We talked about Papa's wife, Kathleen. He told us that Kathleen has brought him a tremendous amount of love and happiness and they have a very good life together, in Arizona. We learned that Papa and Kathleen are active in the Buddhist Sangha and that Papa has learned to meditate. It turns out meditation is important for him to stay grounded with the work he does on the Board of Directors for the local hospital ... and during the five games of golf he plays each and every week. In the Arizona heat.
We saw first hand that retirement hasn't slowed Papa down, at all.
We thanked Papa again, for the incredible generosity he showed to Charlie and I when we were first married. He and Kathleen had picked out a house for us in San Diego - and paid for our first year's rent - so we would have a place to live while in Graduate school. We will never forget their kindness ... and only hope that we are able to extend the same support to our children one day.
During our visit with Papa, we ate popcorn. We drank lots of good wine. We savored the filet mignon steaks that Charlie barbequed for us last night. We finished the evening with hotfudge brownie sundaes, on our back patio beneath a cloudy sky - that drizzled warm raindrops on us.
I have respect for Papa. He is a gentle soul and a kind-hearted man. He is a bona fide gentleman with a lot of class. Much like his son.
Seeing Papa genuinely happy ... made us genuinely happy.
Next time you come visit Papa ... please bring Kathleen. And remember to bring your shoes without laces. In the meantime ... set the record straight and let us know what you would like to be called.