I married late into Eunice's household; her son Tom was only about five years younger than me and already married. So there was no need for her kids to really accept me into the family and the acceptance I received was phenomenal. A few brief stories:
Around 1986, Tom's wife Sandy Niles and their kids (then Holly and Jenny, ages about 5 and 3) had spent the morning with Sandy's parents, who were rather elderly and where the girls had to be quiet and well-behaved. They came over to our place for the afternoon, and the kids let off steam. Holly was playing with the doll house, but Jenny had me on the floor and was (almost) jumping upo and down on me. Sitting on my tummy, she sat up to her full height and announced delightedly, "You aren't ‘nother Grampie. You're ‘nother Daddy". I regarded this as a real compliment, both to me and to Tom. Sandy thought the remark over and added, "You know, I was born late enough in my parents' lives that I didn't have any really functioning grandparents. I just realized that out of this deal, my kids not only get a grandfather young enough that they can really play with him, but with any luck at all" (counting on fingers) "their children will have a functioning great-grandfather."
Bill Stetson, Eunice's number two son, married a girl Karen enough younger that her father Greg was the first opposite father-in-law I had who was my age. Unfortunately, he died suddenly soon after Bill and Karen's first son was born; their second son was named after him. Karen felt the loss of her father intensely, and as the first of her three boys learned to talk, she approached me about a problem. "Would you mind if I taught the boys to call you Chip, instead of Grampa?" No, I wouldn't mind at all. And so it was for several years. But some years later, a few families were sitting in Bill and Karen's front yard: parents and grandparents sitting in lawn chairs as the kids attempted to play baseball. One of Karen's boys (perhaps the youngest, Jacob) detached from the kids and came over to Karen. "Mom, I just found out that Chip is Gabe's Grampa. Can he be our Grampa too?" Karent turned to me. "Chip, you are now Grampa." I feel honored.
Our relationship with Bill and
Karen is good enough that I can tell a story on Bill. Eunice and
I were in Kids R Us in Manchester, New Hampshire, shopping for Christmas
presents for Bill and Karen's three boys. Not being sure what was
needed, Eunice called Bill from a pay phone to ask questions. As
they talked, her change ran out; Bill said he'd call back. But the
pay phone had no ringer. A few minutes later, the store manager paged
"Telephone Call for Mrs. Ordman". She went to the manager's
desk; it was Bill, and he described which presents would work. Eunice
left me to finish up gathering things at Kids R Us while she went next
door to Toys R Us.
A few minutes later I was at the checkout counter with our purchases. More clerks than usual seemed to be around, but I didn't notice it much. However, when I took out cash to pay for the purchases, their faces fell. "Oh", said one, "we were hoping you'd use a credit card." "Ok, " I said, taking out a credit card, "but why?" "We wanted to find out your name." "Ok, but why?"
"Well, a few minutes ago, I got that phone call at the manager's desk and paged your wife. This man called, and he said, ‘Would you please page my mom?' I said, ‘Sure, what's your mom's name?' He said, ‘She's Mrs. Stetson. No, wait a minute, she's Mrs. Niles. No, wait a minute,' and then he must have hollered at his wife in another room, but it sounded real loud, ‘Honey, what's my mom's name?'."
(C) Edward Ordman 2001
Return to story index