Morgan the Writer

Recently our two granddaughters spent the afternoon with their grandmother for what is known in our family as “Gramma Day.” It’s a casual weekly get together time after school with “just the girls,” as the girls themselves like to remind me. Their afternoon with my wife, Betty Ann, almost always concludes with a meal that the girls enjoy at our house before Grampa, that’s me, takes them home in time to get ready for school the next day.

Morgan the Writer

Morgan, as a seven year-old first grader, loves to read and just lately has discovered the art and satisfaction of writing stories. This particular day she was walking around the house with her little spiral notebook and had it sitting near her plate as we all ate supper. As I was about to leave the table and begin clearing plates, Morgan said, “Grampy, can you sit with me? I want to write another story.”

Just how much my granddaughter has ever paid attention to the fact that I too love words and stories, I cannot say for sure. But all that mattered Morgan's storywhen Morgan asked me to sit with her is that my answer needed to be yes and it needed to be right then. And there we sat, at the dining room table, notebook out, pencil in hand and one little thinker with the eraser on her cheek and staring at the ceiling waiting for the words to come.

One word to another

I knew this stance, this feeling, instantly. And as one word and then another came I watched her facial features change as her eyes lit up and her pencil found the paper. There is a kind of certainty, of absoluteness, in watching young writers press their words upon a page with so much force that dents in the page that follows. And for Morgan on this day the story was about her life and world, of family and home and their dog named Bella.

Drawing of Morgan's dog BellaAnd what was my role and what did I have to offer? Mainly presence, encouragement and most importantly to stay out of the way as the writer shaped her words and the story took its shape. Every few moments Morgan had the word and not the spelling. I watched her pause, sometimes caring to correct and sometimes not. Been there, done that,” I said only to myself. Knowing that nuggets of inspiration travel at the speed of light and as quickly disappear, I watched, silently, as Morgan harnessed all that came from a place that any writer knows and from feel, to think, Morgan got it down on paper.

Morgan the Writer
Morgan the writer

That’s how pages fill and spill onto the next. Age doesn’t matter. “My story’s going to be two pages long this time, Grampa,” she said. And so it was to the very last sentence and conclusion, in big bold letters that read, “The end.”

Text and images by K. Lee

I am rich, very rich, in daughters

I am rich, very rich, in daughters.
Betty Ann, Jen, Amy and Rebecca
I am rich, very rich, in daughters

Each child, all three and all girls came into our lives at intervals back in the 1970’s. So as I reflect upon the joys, mysteries and occasional challenges of being a dad, my memories span decades and over time have woven into a vibrant tapestry that is still being shaped today. Time, as we know, has a way of smoothing out the scariest and most difficult moments of parenting. Yet whether it was illness, injury, emotional hurts or those fright-filled forty-five seconds when a daughter went missing at the mall, as a dad I have been blessed to parent alongside a terrific woman and wife for the past forty-four years. I am convinced beyond doubt that parenting in partnership in every way has made me a better father and a dad to our girls. For sure, I am rich, very rich, in daughters.

As a dad and being a parent to adult children is in itself a peculiar and marvelous kind of relationship. One minute I find myself remembering the child who once mastered the playground and the next moment my daughter, now in her mid-thirties is detailing her upcoming trip abroad with her work.  There are subtle moments, too, when as dad, my role is to listen, support, sometimes suggest, comfort or simply be present non-verbally to any one of our daughters should the need arise. And there are times, to my amazement actually, when they as full-fledged adults, are in so many words, or by their actions, are letting me know that I should be listening to them and accepting their advice. I may not always agree with their message to me but I know that I love them more deeply for it.

I especially cherish three major life events with each of my daughters. And it is one that very few fathers have the opportunity to experience. All three are married now, and because I am a Friends Minister, each daughter and the men they were engaged to asked me to officiate at their wedding. Their mom, not me, walked each daughter down the aisle. As a dad to this day, the memories and feelings I had upon each daughter’s wedding day, from the honor of hearing the weight of their vows recited to solemnizing their union and pronouncing them married one to the other, is a gift that gladdens my heart every day.

They sneaked in on little ships one day
I am rich, very rich, in daughters.
Joshua’s day-old feet

Then the years came when that blessing and gift grew by two, then three and four and now, like wildfire into five and then six new lives. Count them! Six glorious little lives all their own called grandchildren. They sneaked in on little ships one day when I was busy doing something else that seemed important.

I am rich, very rich, in daughters.
The crew: Kevin Owen, Maddie, Josh, Zach and Morgan

I am not sure how this all happened. There’s no manual, no playbook, nothing on being grampy, just unwritten expectations that come without words or fanfare. Each of them, Kevin, Madison, Owen, Joshua, Zachary and Morgan, just moved in to the middle of who I am, set sail and changed whatever course I thought I was on forever.

Sometimes I look at each of them and say nothing. I just look at them, these little relatives, and I wonder about the joys and storms each will face as their lives unfold into tomorrow. Already each owns real estate within my heart. Each makes me laugh, love, play and worry in ways I have not known before. It brings me back to the hours when I first became a father all those years ago, wondering how I would measure up, not just as a father, but as a dad.

I am rich, very rich, in daughters.
My better half, Betty Ann!

These days whenever one of our granddaughters greets me, she always says “Hello grandfather.”  To the rest, I am grampa or grampy. To my daughters I am forever their dad which is a title I will never relinquish. And to myself, when I scan the room with my whole family sitting about, I am husband, father, dad and grandfather on every day. But on this Father’s Day, I am filled with joy and with a prayer of very deep gratitude for what has become a family complete.

Text and photos by K.Lee

What am I waiting for?

What am I waiting for? I ask myself this question about six times a day. I think that I’m waiting for divine intervention or for the phone to ring or for Google to send me a map to follow. What am I waiting for?

How about you? What are you waiting for? I’ll bet that you didn’t know that you were actually waiting for something until I asked, did you? Me either, until this darn question arrived in my inbox. That’s the way it is with questions. They’re sneaky. Continue reading “What am I waiting for?”

Hope Notes

sing your little hearts out

It was a quiet residential neighborhood until half-past noon when they came from near and far in search of one last spot to park. There were parents pushing strollers, grandmas pulling grandkids in little red wagons and great-grandparents pushing walkers. From each direction they streamed and funneled through the doors like it was Carnegie Hall on opening night. Continue reading “Hope Notes”

Madison Rose

I am rich, very rich in daughters.

And then a year came when that blessing grew by two, then three and four and now, like wildfire into five, count them, five glorious little lives all their own called grandchildren. They snuck in on little ships one day when I was busy doing something else that seemed important.

I am not sure just how this all happened. There’s no manual, no playbook, nothing on being grampy. Just unwritten expectations that come without words or reason. Each of them, Kevin, Madison, Owen, Joshua and Zachary just moved in to the middle of who I am, set sail and changed whatever course I thought was mine.

Sometimes I look at each of them and say nothing. I just look at them, these little relatives, and wonder about the joys and storms each will face as their lives unfold into tomorrow. Already each owns real estate within my heart. Each makes me laugh, love, and worry in ways I have not known before.

Madison Rose

Now one, Maddie, grips hard. My heart aches and soars for all she’s journeyed through and triumphed over in her grand, eventful life among us. Talk about stamina and strength! She’s jockeyed more white coats in thirty-four months than I’ve seen in my lifetime. She turns her concentration of picking up french fries into an art form. Hell, most anyone can walk, but Maddie turns every forward motion into footsteps of absolute fortitude, will and measurements of joy.

Still, there are rivers to cross. And I, one grandfather, help send and receive, send and receive as best I can. I pray for the boat, the gifted crew and fair weather. I wait and hold an image of one beautiful little girl called Madison Rose stepping out of that boat and with a nod of her chin and a wave of an arm, signals, “follow me, Grampy!” And yes, I certainly will.

Kevin Lee