Because she wanted to know what standing in the back hatch area of my car felt like…

They are getting ready to leave, and she clings to me like she never wants to let go.

She is only two years old.

I am “grandpa” to her, her four year-old brother and six year-old cousin. Last night, in the two and one-half hours after I got home, she said my name roughly 450 times. With the state of her current diction, most of the time I am “gam-paw”.

I’ll miss these days when they are gone.

One of the things I dread is they day she realizes we aren’t really related. That “Granddaddy” across town is her actual blood relative. That I am just her mother’s stepfather.

My wife looks at me like I’m crazy when I bring this up. Actually, she looks at me like I’m crazy a lot. “She loves you,” she says. “None of that will matter to her, or to any of them.”

‘Yeah,’ I think. ‘Easy for you to say.’

Being a stepparent is a thing you never really get over. I have a stepdaughter who works for the same company I do. I almost always refer to her as “my daughter”. She refers to me as her “stepdad”.

I think that captures the asymmetry of step-parenting pretty well. She’s 31 years old, and how we look at the relationship is subtly but intrinsically different; a difference so subtle that neither she, nor her sisters, nor her mother can see it.

“What makes you think they will care?” my wife asks me.

“Well, for starters, advertisements for are everywhere these days. Show me one where anyone is looking up stepparents. To fully-grown children, stepparents are like the domestic help of the modern age. They may look back on them fondly, but they are secondary characters.”

“Tcch. Ridiculous,” she says.

‘Sigh,’ I think, ‘Maybe so.’

After all, I have pretty strong memories of my grandmother, even though she lived a thousand miles away and we only visited her like four times before she passed. (All of my other grandparents died before I was born.)

My grandmother, as I remember her, was as wide as she was tall. She had orange hair that looked like she might have colored it with shoe polish. And she smelled like the face powder that collected in the cracks on her face.

I still remember how she smelled.

She was very sweet to kids. I really loved her. Relatives are very important us as children, and as adults.

My wife breaks in on my thoughts. “Technically, she [my granddaughter] isn’t related to you, either. Does that change how you feel about her?”

“Of course not.”

“Then it won’t change how they feel about you, either.”

No, I suppose not.

‘Love’ is a word of action,
It’s more than blood or skin
Or any other type of thing
We get invested in.

‘Love’ is a thing immortal,
And we’d best not forget it –
To give love where and when we can,
And cherish when

We get it

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13 Thoughts to “Granddaughter

  1. Wow! Lots of people have pretty kids, but she is a stunner! 🙂 And she looks very awake and curious and fun and all the good words 🙂

    No one knows what anyone really thinks, but I imagine she’ll still love you, regardless of the genetics and the existence of blood relatives. I’m not sure there’s an upper limit on how many people you can love..

  2. You have a most precious gift there Owen, no matter the blood lines and no matter how long it lasts. No one can take away, or diminish, this moment.

  3. She is adorable. <3
    Although my Aunt Debbie isn't really my blood relative, she is my family. In my heart she is my aunt and always will be. If that helps any.

  4. So, my grandfather, if you wanted to make some scientific study of it, was not mathematically related via c’s, g’s, a’s and t’s and all those weird things in that double helix we cannot see.
    I could see the light in his eyes when he spoke to me. I could feel the caring in his hands as he held mine in his.
    I never knew another grandfather, and it never made a bit of difference in my universe and his when people would start using those standoffish terms; step, half. I loved him, and he loved me, and that’s that.
    I have five children. Three of them started without me and were born with different names while I wasn’t there. Two of them I created and welcomed into the world, and garnished them with my name.
    “Have you considered adopting the ones whose name labels don’t match yours?”
    “Absolutely not,” I reply. “Those are their names. That is who they are. I love them for who they are and don’t require them to change anything about themselves. If anyone tries to mess with my kids’ names they’ll need to deal with me first.”
    Kids in Little League called me by the last name of my pre-me children. I would answer, and never correct them.
    Now the long line of names and labels can hardly be traced. From my mother’s father who had a different name to my children who boast two more names that are distinct, to the daughters that have married and have replacement names to their children who bear the name of their father.
    At Thanksgiving, we waste no time sorting this out.
    We are family.

    Kiss that beautiful child for me, and stop wasting your heart’s time on such nonsense as worry.

    From “Pop Pop” to “Gam paw”.

    Take care and keep in touch,


  5. I can feel all the love you have for her in your words. She surely feels that too! You are her ‘gam-paw’ too ♥️

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