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Now Willard Scott and a host of his famous and not-so-famous friends celebrate the delights and surprises of this special job in life with If I Knew It Was Going to Be ...
Now Willard Scott and a host of his famous and not-so-famous friends celebrate the delights and surprises of this special job in life with If I Knew It Was Going to Be This Much Fun, I Would Have Become a Grandparent First.
Brian W. Aldiss is a writer whose science fiction work has brought him his greatest fame. Additionally, his poems, plays, essays, and other novels have marked him as one of the most versatile and influential writers of our time.
A question often asked is: "What is the purpose of human beings here on Earth?" Some people have a religious answer, that we are somehow working out God's plan, as if He were a master chess player. That is as it may be. More certainly, we are here to propagate our species. This is what gives us most gratification.
Of recent years, breeding times have been much extended. Basically, however, the situation remains the same as it ever was: we grow to reproductive age, we reproduce, and then we fall off the perch.
Although we cannot exactly be happy about that fall, the drop is eased if we have children to carry on our name. Some of us, the more long-lived, may see not only grandchildren, but also our great-grandchildren. So the long chain of our genes extends into the future.
My good fortune is to have a boy and a girl by my first marriage and a boy and a girl by my second marriage. I regard this as the natural order of things: "Whatever is, is right," in the words of Alexander Pope.
Even better, these four remarkable people-they are all fully grown by now, of course-get on well together and are of happy and equable disposition. All have partners; three of the four are married and so far two of them, the older pair, have three boys between them-my clever and lively grandchildren. Much as I love them, I am a bit too old to enter into their outdoor games. And much as I love them, I could never possibly love them as greatly as I love my four dear children, who taught me so much by their entry into the world and their growing up.
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Buzz Aldrin is a former NASA astronaut. On July 20, 1969, he and Neil Armstrong became the first humans to walk on the moon.
I've had the privilege of sending my grandson, Jeffrey, to various space camps across the country in recent summers, and each time I can't help but consider the incredible innovations and changes that have taken place since I was sent off to Trout Lake Camp as a young boy.
My generation witnessed the rise of airpower, the launching of satellites, and even the landing of men on the moon. We've fought through devastating world wars and witnessed the rise and fall of great nations. Etched in stone monuments and memorials are the names of countless men and women who have sacrificed everything for the freedoms we enjoy. I try to share these stories with my grandson as often as I can.
Despite all of these advancements, much has remained the same. Though Jeffrey's generation will face challenges wholly different and in some ways more terrible than our own, it does so with the same freedoms that its grandparents had, and with that freedom this generation is the inheritor of unlimited possibilities.
As I see Jeffrey off to space camp, I am proud and thrilled that I might be sending off a future astronaut. But regardless of where my grandson ends up, I hope that he remembers the dedication and sacrifice of two generations ago, and the responsibility that is this legacy of freedom that we have left him.
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Jane Alexander is an actress who has been nominated for three Academy Awards and has appeared in such classic films as All the President's Men and Kramer vs. Kramer. She served as chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1993 until 1997.
Isabelle, age four, is severely restricted by my son and daughter-in-law in the amount of sugar she eats. They were visiting us for ten days in our summer home, where the rules are always more relaxed. On the last morning of their stay as I was alone in the kitchen cooking breakfast, little Isabelle came quietly downstairs and said somberly, "Oh, Nana, I will miss you and Pushkie [her name for her Grandpa] sooo much."
My heart swelled, and then she added, "But I realize I will not have my Honey Nut Cheerios anymore."
I almost burst out laughing, then seeing how serious her look was I asked instead, "Sugar is really your favorite thing, isn't it?"
"Yes, my favorite thing in the whole wide world," she replied.
"Hmmm," I said, "if you had to choose between your mother and sugar, which would it be?"
There was a long Jack Benny pause (remember the old "Your money or your life" routine?), and then she yelled, "Sugar!"
Then she collapsed in a flurry of giggles and added, "Just kidding."
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Jayne Meadows Allen
Jayne Meadows Allen, an Emmy Award winner, has appeared on Broadway, television, and film. She has also co-starred opposite the legendary Steve Allen, her husband of almost fifty years, in their multi-award-winning historical series "Meeting of Minds."
Saintly Elizabeth Meadows, my paternal grandmother, is the role model I have attempted to emulate with my three adored grandchildren, nine step-grandchildren, and five step great-grandchildren.
At ten years of age, I wrote a play a month. It was always the same plot, only the costumes and props changed. In every play I cast my sister, Audrey, as the lovely princess, keeping the best part, the melodramatic witch, for myself.
Our audience of two consisted of our English bulldog, Pal, and dear grandmother, who sat patiently, month after month, applauding enthusiastically although she had heard not a word. Grandmother was stone deaf from birth.
Most of us suffer, occasionally, from emotional homelessness and, oh, how I needed the encouragement and unconditional love of that sensitive lady, a love I enjoy sharing today with my darlings, since each has uniquely different needs.
Eighteen-year-old Bradley, my first grandchild, offered recently to drive me to a very glamorous party for the cast of the Oscar-winning movie Chicago. My neighbors, Patty and Dick Van Patten, had promised to bring me home. Brad asked if he could come inside to say "Hi" to Dick. The "Hi" turned into: "Are you sure, Mr. Van Patten, that it's not inconvenient for you to drive my grandmother home tonight?" Adding, with a twinkle in his eye, "Please make sure, sir, that she's home by a decent hour." At six feet two inches, Bradley is my trusted bodyguard and the heart of the Allen family.
Sixteen-year-old Bobby, a Steve Allen clone, is the humor of the family. He and I attend tap classes and the theater together and of course we talk showbiz until it's coming out of our ears. One of my greatest joys is coaching Bob in his high school plays and preparing him for some of the inevitable heartbreaks that face the life of an actor. He will appear this summer in a rock opera at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland. I shall be front and center.
And then there's seven-year-old Amanda Michelle, who was always the apple of Grandpa Steve's eye and, of course, the romance of the family. Recently, we were all enjoying dinner together at our favorite Chinese restaurant and after dessert, were reading aloud our fortune cookies. Amanda read hers: "Soon someone you love very much will come to see you." Without a second's hesitation, she leapt from her chair, hugged the fortune to her chest, and squealed, "Oh boy, Grandpa Steve's coming back!"
Out of the mouths of babes.
My rules for grandparenting:
A. Be available.
B. Never criticize!
C. Be as genuinely interested in their dreams as in a skinned knee.
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Roger Armstrong is an award-winning cartoonist and painter. He is a former Walt Disney Company staff artist whose work includes the Ella Cinders, Napoleon and Uncle Elby, Little Lulu, and Scamp comic strips.
When my granddaughter Christina was a little girl of seven or eight, she loved to hang over my drawing board to watch me draw. It was 1958 and I was producing the Napoleon comic strip, which, at that time, was distributed by the L.A. Times newspaper syndicate. Christina was the second child of my (step) daughter Mignon-who, with her sister Karen, lived near us in San Gabriel, California.
At the time, I didn't think much of her diligent attention to my activity. She would watch me work while her siblings frantically played outside. Christina was my favorite grandchild (at that time I only had a few-later I had lots) and we would talk a lot while she watched me draw.
Okay, fast forward-
Fifty plus years have gone speeding by. Now I'm retired-well, not exactly retired; I'm an art teacher and conduct classes four days a week. I haven't done any comic strips for the past twelve years (the last strip I drew was Scamp for the Walt Disney Company). Now I teach drawing and painting in my studio as well as in various art schools.
And what has happened to Christina? Well, she is now a top-notch graphic designer and head of the graphic design department at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, where she also teaches. She takes excellent care of her grandfather, driving him to various engagements as required since he doesn't drive at night anymore.
"Did the many hours you spent as a child watching me draw comics have any influence on your career decision?" I asked her one day. "Are you kidding?" she said. "Of course they did."
And so it goes, one generation transfers to the next, for the most part, inadvertently.
We humans are eclectic on almost every level. We learn-and build on-all that we gathered from those who preceded us; none of us "spring full blown from the brow of Zeus."
Grandparenting is an ongoing joy, especially when one is able to participate, as I can, in the obvious continuity.
Christina, as well as Michael, her son, now thirty-two years old, is living proof that "life goes on."
The presence of a grandparent confirms that parents were, indeed, little once, too, and that people who are little can grow to be big, can become parents, and one day even have grandchildren of their own. So often we think of grandparents as belonging to the past; but in this important way, grandparents, for young children, belong to the future. -FRED ROGERS
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Dick Ayers is a comic book artist who has been penciling, lettering, inking, and coloring since 1948. Some of his most famous titles include Sgt. Fury and Ghost Rider.
Yes, if I had known grandchildren were so much fun, I would have had them first! I have been very fortunate as a comic book artist working at home and being able to share the many visits they had at their grandparents' home. My first grandchild was Lauren. We shared many "firsts" together. One always brings joy when I highlight its memory. Lauren was four years old-a gorgeous, cute red-haired girl, and I brought her with me to Manhattan on the train from White Plains, New York-her first trip to "the city." At Grand Central Station, I hailed a taxi on Vanderbilt Avenue to proceed to Warner Communications up by the Radio City skating rink. As the taxi proceeded on 45th Street, I pointed out to Lauren, "See, Lauren, all the buildings?!" and she answered, "See all the people, Grandpa!" The taxi driver interjected: "Wow, that little girl is smart, mister[ She knows what is important!"
Grandchildren are very special. Perhaps that's why they are called "grand" children. And we "grand" parents are grand to them, too. Their grandmother and I celebrated our fiftieth anniversary in 2001 with a gathering of relatives, friends, and neighbors and, as a tribute, Lauren stood center-stage and read a poem she wrote citing the grandchildren's memories. It begins
Together we gather in celebration for Fifty years of marriage complete. A couple, a family, many Generations toast this marvelous feat. You may know them as Dick & Lindy, Richard & Charlotte, Mr. & Mrs. Ayers. Charlie and Grandpa, they are to us, But we all can agree, they are quite a pair.
There are six stanzas of their memories of the times shared with us and she closes with
A grandchild never felt so loved and This is our anniversary wish to you. May you know how much your love Means, how honest it is and true. May you cherish each other for Many days and view the pictures on your wall. For we are all the family that you Created, gathered here one and all! LOVE, LAUREN & JAMIE
Lindy and I were blessed with five grandchildren: Lauren, James, Kimberly, Kara, and Christopher, our step-grandson. Today we are blessed with three great-grandchildren and are having fun getting to know Meghan, Griffin, and Connor. Already I'm looking forward to bobsledding with Griffin, who will be two years old this winter. I am most fortunate. I can still do some of the things I did with our children, Elaine, Stephen, Richard, and Frederick.
The closest friends I have made all through life have been people who also grew up close to a loved and living grandmother or grandfather. -MARGARET MEAD
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Howard Baker, Jr.
Howard H. Baker, Jr., served three terms as a United States senator from Tennessee from 1967 until 1985. He was appointed the United States Ambassador to Japan in June of 2001 by President George W. Bush.
When my second grandson, Matthew, was about eight years old, I took him to Channel 5 in Nashville to do one of those feature pieces that television does often and does well. He listened attentively to everything like a fine young gentleman. On the way home in the car, he looked at me and said, "Papa, did you used to be somebody?"
As is often the case with a question from a grandson, it was unanswerable.
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Kaye Ballard is an actress and singer. She debuted on the screen in 1957 in The Girl Most Likely and went on to star in The Mothers-in-Law and The Steve Allen Comedy Hour on television.
My grandmother was the most important and influential person in my life. I left home at seventeen because I thought she was going to die, and I wanted to get used to living without her.
Excerpted from If I Knew It Was Going to Be This Much Fun, I Would Have Become a Grandparent First by Willard Scott Copyright © 2004 by Willard Scott. Excerpted by permission.
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