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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Manuel Ramos

The Unexpected Grandparent

Just a little over a week ago, our daughter gave birth to our second grandchild – a baby girl! Our 17-month-old grandson is now a big brother and we couldn’t be happier. We traveled to upstate New York to visit our family and meet our newest family member. Our daughter and son-in-law certainly have their hands full but we have the utmost confidence in their abilities. Luckily, our other daughter has fully embraced the “Aunt life” and is right there helping out and providing them with assistance at every turn.

Our grandson is a bundle of energy and he’s such a good eater. Looking forward, to the not so distant future, I will be thrilled to spoil them both and teach them about food, the joy of cooking, and the vast culinary richness out there that motivates me on a daily basis.

Prior to heading back home to Michigan, I held that baby girl and broke down in tears. I was overcome with emotion and it has taken me a few thoughtful days to fully understand my emotions. The first layer of my feelings were directly related to the realization that our visit was over and we were leaving our family once again. We all get along so well, and we spent quality time with our grandson with trips to the park and long walks in his stroller. I did take a few days off from the kitchen because I was pining for ethnic food that we can’t easily access living in the sticks. High on my list were really good Thai, Italian, and Chinese food and everyone obliged me and we gorged on some great take-out. That left us ample time to sit around the table with multiple rounds of card games including Shanghai, Oh Hell!, and Euchre.

On our flight home, I pondered an unexpected question – how did I – become a grandparent? Some may think the answer is easy. I am lucky to be married to a man that has two amazing, talented and beautiful (inside and out) daughters. But in my wildest dreams, I never EVER expected to be a parent on any level or to be legally married for that matter. In my 51 years, the world has changed, social acceptance has evolved, and laws have been put into place that my 15 year old brain could never have imagined as I came to the realization of who I was and the challenges I would face growing up.

I believe, the tears I wept before we left New York this past trip where filled with joy, wonderment, and yes, a bit of sadness too. In cooking terminology a – bouquet garni – perfectly represents that parcel of mixed emotions.

I am so grateful for the family I married into – my mother-in-law treats me like a son, the aunts, uncles, and vast amount of cousins that have embraced me as part of their family touches my heart. Our daughters, grandkids, and son-in-law have all enriched my life in countless ways.

The loss of both my parents just a few years ago created a painful emptiness. My new family has filled that loss with shear happiness, laughter, and special memories. My sister and I have become closer and we speak almost every day. Our bond strengthened significantly after we rescued my Dad from a hospital in Poland after he had a major stroke while on a visit to that country. But that entire story deserves its own time and space or a Lifetime movie!

As we touched down in Michigan, I walked through the airport with a full heart, a greater appreciation of the love that surrounds me, and the knowledge that life throws out some wonderful and unexpected experiences that one could never imagine.

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