Life is Grand in YMM
Recently a person asked me: “If you could go back and be any age or stage in life you have ever lived what time would you pick?” I paused for about 15 seconds and said I would choose to live my life at the age and the stage I am at right now.
Now is one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable periods in my life because I have time to enjoy some of the fruits of our labour.
No, I don’t mean a huge house or an exceptional quantity of earthly possessions. But, I have something that brings me more joy every day that any possession I have ever had or ever will have because my wife Cathy and I have six grandchildren!
We have three children. Our daughter Elizabeth is married to her husband Eric, and they live in McMurray with two beautiful daughters, Adelaide and Belle. They love to garden and enjoy the outdoors.
My second daughter is Sarah, and she and her husband Justin also live in Fort McMurray with three, awesome children Elias, Millie and Asher. They are adventuresome and love to travel and read.
Our third child is Nathan and lives in Ontario with his wife Jessica. They have one son Stirling, who is soon turning one year old. He is like his grandfather and smiles a lot!
Life as a grandparent in Fort McMurray is quite enjoyable as the community is big enough to have most of the amenities one could want. It is also small enough to travel from one place to the next without wasting time.
From my house in Abasand, I can drive to Sarah’s in Timberlea in 16 minutes and to Elizabeth’s in Thickwood in 13. Each of our neighbourhoods has playgrounds close by, and we often spend time walking to and playing at the parks.
I admit, my wife Cathy is the best grandparent ever! She often spends one or two nights helping out our grandkids each week. She comes home with stories of each child’s latest development or bumps or scrape. Being in the same town brings the strength of relationship not easily maintained when grandchildren live in communities away from McMurray.
It is not impossible; however, so I encourage grandparents to use technology to keep connected with family and grandchildren abroad. This connection of sharing stories and day-to-day activities are the basis of growing a relationship with your grandkids which will be life-giving in years to come.
I believe I am seeing a trend in McMurray (but one I cannot support with research at this time), where grandparents are living with one of their children and their child’s family.
I have always been a proponent of the old school model seen in some farming and rural communities in North America but also often seen in many cultures around the world. I think it is not only practical for childcare or economic purposes, but also important for helping the family and grandchildren understand their sense of identity.
Grandparenting is sure to keep you humble. While eating dinner at Elizabeth’s home, Adelaide, between bites of her pizza, looked over at me and said, “Papa, you sure have a big belly!”
On another occasion, I had Millie up on my shoulders in the lobby of the church, as people were talking after service. Millie discovered a small bald patch on my head and a small mole, which I have had for years.
“Grandpa?” She asked. “Did you know that you have a nipple on your head?” Yes, Millie, Grandpa has a nipple on his head.
Kids usually call things as they are. If you ever need a dose of humility, spend a few hours with your grandchildren. They will keep you rooted in reality.
There is no place I would rather be than in Fort McMurray with my children and grandchildren. Life is great, wherever you choose to make it great. But I can tell you in our lives one of the greatest joys is our children and grandchildren. We often say we should have had more!