From Chicken Soup for the Father & Son Soul

One of the Guys . . . at Last

“Good hit!”

My husband’s voice floated back to me from the backyard through our kitchen window. In it I heard grandfatherly pride mingled with delight. Isaiah had just shown his eight-year-old baseball prowess and Granddad was duly impressed.

Not a big deal. Kids love to hit baseballs, and grandpas love to be on the pitching end. But the vignette lingered with me the whole day.

Having grandsons has enriched my husband’s life in unexpected ways. This was a man who yearned to have sons but ended up with three complicated, fiery daughters instead. He never once expressed disappointment when first Jill, then Amy, followed by Nancy came along in fairly rapid succession.

But I did catch a glimpse of his face moments after the doctor had told him the news—a third girl—just outside the delivery room (back in the ancient days when dads weren’t present at births). I saw a look of surrender.

We would have no more babies. So, no little boys to monitor on the journey to manhood—just these little girls. And, alas, they didn’t like baseball or many other sports.

My husband never admitted it, not even now, but I know he has always seen his basic role as protector of his daughters. No women’s movement could change his rock-solid belief.

Our daughters grew up knowing that their father was their anchor, their silver-haired knight, who wore his heart on his sleeve. For better or worse, he was the man who would chase away the demons of their bad dreams when they were small, soothe their adolescent angst, and walk them down the aisle, or in our case, the garden path of our home, as each married in succession.

On the day our first grandchild—another girl—was born, I tried to read my husband’s face. Was this yet another disappointment? Had he secretly yearned for a Jonathan, the name he was always going to give a son?

But his delight in this perfect miniature, a carbon copy of her mother, was so wide and deep that it seemed impossible to top.

A year later, our “baby” had a baby of her own. Nancy’s news seemed almost unfathomable when we got the call on that November morning. Nancy had given birth to . . . Sam! And a brave new world had dawned on our family.

Today, we have not just three granddaughters, but also four grandsons, two of whom have an uncanny resemblance to their maternal grandfather. And now, toy trucks zoom around our family room, and little boys, all under the age of ten, seem to bounce off walls in their play. Their grandfather dries their tears when they fall or fight with one another, or when they feel sad or scared. He’s a veteran of all of that.

He walks with each of them to a little pond near our house to watch the ripples pebbles make when they hit water. It’s something he often did with their mothers.

But these days, he also has some new equipment in the garage: baseballs and gloves, Frisbees, a miniature football, and some “guy stuff,” as he calls this accumulation of tools and toys he’s been collecting. He can be found watching a football game with little boys who seem genetically predestined to share his excitement. Their mothers would sooner go shopping.

So I smile to myself and say nothing. But what a joy it is for me to see the man with whom I’ve shared my life opening this new chapter, this “man-to-man” chapter he is writing with little guys named Sam, Isaiah, Jonah, Daniel.

Someday our grandsons may understand how long and eagerly their grandpa has waited just to say the simple words, “Good catch!”

For now, I’m so grateful that at last, he’s one of the guys.

Sally Friedman

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