The Aim: Meet and Enjoy My Grandkids
Control What I Can Control to Tilt the Odds in My Favor
I never met my father’s father. He died of a heart attack at age 53, two years before I was born. My kids never met my father. He died of lung cancer at age 63, a year before my oldest child was born. My Dad only met one of his five grandchildren, my brother’s oldest child. And Dad passed away before she turned two.
Occasionally, I ruminate on these sad facts. My Dad missed so much joy by not living long enough to delight in his grandchildren. They have missed much joy without him too.
These thoughts are intertwined with the reality of my heart condition. Because of the accident of the timing of my birth, I have a better shot at making it to a ripe old age than almost any congenital heart patient before in human history. I’m in my mid-40s now. My doctors have urged me to plan for retirement.
A few years ago, I told my heart doctor I wanted to become the first grandfather in three generations of my family tree to meet their grandchildren. He replied, “Let’s one-up that. I want you to live long and healthy enough to enjoy your grandchildren!”
I liked that addition. A lot. That is the aim of my life: to meet and to enjoy my grandchildren.
Of course, I cannot control this outcome. I could walk across the street and get whacked by a truck. The unknowns of my mortality are why I do not claim “enjoying my grandkids” as a goal. Instead, I approach it more broadly: it’s an aim. A target. A lodestar in my life.
This aim spurs me to take action to tilt the odds in my favor. I exercise regularly. I eat in a generally healthy way. I limit my alcohol consumption. I (try to) foster a hopeful attitude in most circumstances. Each one may not make a big difference. Compounded, perhaps these behaviors and attitudes tilt the odds heavily in my favor. And the aim also motivates me to discover new ways to further tilt the odds in my favor.
This is the aim: meet and enjoy my grandkids!
I've recently gotten drawn back into family history research, and I'm fortunate - I can follow many branches of ancestry back into Virginia history (with a few adventurous souls seeking their fortunes in Kentucky in the 1800s!). Seeing the repetitions (many, many repetitions) of family names gives one a real sense of connection, and a sense that they were connected to each other - grandfather's and grandmother's names appearing again generations later... seeing the long-lived also stands out, and I imagine the 90, 95 years olds (often women) sitting surrounded by grandchildren and even great grandchildren. Of course, none of us are having children at age 18, so the modern world presents new challenges to that idea.. here's to seeing those grandkids and your own family tree grow... !