In Praise of Some Good Guys

Last winter, after being out of town for several months, we were surprised when one of our friends—a single man in his sixties—turned up with a six-week-old infant in tow, packing her around in a baby carrier.  The child turned out to be his granddaughter.  The mother, who had used drugs during her pregnancy, had abandoned her addicted newborn in the hospital.

Grandpa stepped up.  Once the baby made it through withdrawal, he took her home.  When we saw him, the baby was fine as frogs’ hair.  Our friend?  Not so much.  He had dark circles under his eyes from lack of sleep.  He was struggling to find child care so he could keep on working.  Eventually, his former wife, who is not the child’s biological grandmother, also stepped into the breach.  Between them, they have managed to care for this now sparkly-eyed, crawling little tyke. Despite her troubled entry into the world, that little girl is developing normally and growing up in a loving and stable if unconventional home.

This past week, Grandpa had a day to himself and took his three year-old car to the dealership where he originally bought it for servicing.  The owner, someone with whom Grandpa had had other business dealings, came through the service room waiting room and inquired how Grandpa was doing.  Sometimes the question, “How’s it going?” is a cursory inquiry at best with no need for a comprehensive response.  This time, Grandpa was at a low ebb and said, “Do you really want to know?”

The dealer did want to know, and so Grandpa told him—the whole difficult story, complete with comprehensive iPhone photo documentation of the journey, up to and including a brand new crib. The dealer left the room at the end of the story.  Some time later the service manager came to the waiting room and told Grandpa his car was ready.  Except when he went outside, his car looked different.  Same color; same model; different year and wearing a brand new  temporary license tag.

It turned out, the dealer had just done a trade in.  “The payments will stay the same as on your old contract,” the dealer told Grandpa.  “When you finish paying off the old car, the new one will be paid for—with 97,000 fewer miles.”

I’m not naming names today because neither of those terrific men would want me to use them.  As you can see, there are two heroes in this story—two unsung heroes who are doing the right thing for no other reason than because it’s the right thing to do.  They’re not asking for media applause or attention.  They’re not going around bragging about their good deeds; they’re just DOING them!

But be advised, the two unassuming heroes mentioned here aren’t alone by any means. All over the country, there are countless other grandparents who have put plans for their own golden years on hold in order to care for and raise the neglected children of their troubled offspring.  And along the way, there are other members of communities who, once aware of what’s going on, have reached out to lend a helping hand, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in large ones.

All these selfless people—every single one of them–have my utmost gratitude and respect because, without the love and supreme effort of those caring grandparents, vast numbers of innocent little kids wouldn’t have a chance in hell.

Siri tells me that Grandparents Day will be celebrated on September 7.  I maintain that’s dead wrong.

Grandparents like Grandpa should be celebrated every single day of the year.

No exceptions.

26 thoughts on “In Praise of Some Good Guys

  1. I have a very dear friend who is about to turn eighty. She is rearing her great grandson, who is a wonderful twelve year old. Going to soccer games, attending parent conferences, doing the multitude of things that I (who am twelve years younger than she is) feel too OLD to do. I salute her and all the other selfless people doing this–but I can’t help but despair of the young people who have fallen into addiction.

  2. What a great story. It has brightened my day which is Seattle weather—cool and raining. There are a lot of great people out there who just carry on.

    I do a lot of knitting. Would it be ok if I sent a hat or two and maybe a sweater to you to give to this friend for his granddaughter? Just let me know.

  3. This brought tears to my eyes, as my son and daughter- in-law while unable to have children adopted twin boys. They are the light of our lives! The same birth mother recently gave birth to daughter who had to stay in the NICU to be weaned off drugs. The little girl came home after two and a half weeks and has joined and enhanced the family. My son and his wife took turns staying with the baby while she was in NICU as the birth mother called them through the adoption agency the moment she realized she was pregnant. My daughter-in-law even got to be in the delivery room. We are all eagerly awaiting finalization, as ‘gottcha day’ has happened. This family celebrates ‘gottcha day’ the same as a birthday, thus opening the conversation in later years for the story of their adoption. To say your blog struck a chord is so very true. It takes a village and believe me these and parents have a huge village cheering them on. Kudos to your friend. Give him my love and heartfelt thanks.

  4. God bless all the unknown, unheralded, uncelebrated good people of the world. This is an excellent example of how one good doing can lead to another and another and….

  5. Thank you for sharing these wonderful people, it helped my rather mediocre spirit this morning. Blessings on them and theirs.

  6. Good story.
    I need to apologize. I wrote a less than complimentary post about “,man overboard”. It was making no sense to me. I decided to start over and read slower. I have a bad habit of reading very fast and not processing what I read. That worked wonders and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

  7. An all too familiar story. My co-worker friend raised her two teen aged grandsons for the same reason. Beautiful daughter, a CPA, put it all up her nose. About the same time as the second child was born, things went wrong financially. It has been a struggle for the folks, now mid 70s but they soldier on. Many grandparents are stepping up to help their single parent offspring with $, childcare, sometimes sharing the home. This brave grandfather, God bless him. Hopefully, he gets some help for the child care part, which is so expensive these days. Thank you for reminding us all how fragile life can be.

  8. Kudos to the grandparents and great grandparents for stepping up and starting over raising children at mature ages. I ended up as a single mother of 11 and 13 year old boys who were really good and gave me very few problems but it was still stressful and money was always tight. My philosophy is time, attention, love, and emotional security are more important than the latest fancy toy stuff. I was very happy that I had always been the disciplinarian; it saved me a lot of problems when they both hit the teen years!

  9. This story did my heart good. Seeing such acts of kindness touched me deeply and gave me faith in mankind again. We see so much of the negative in the media it’s refreshing to read stories like this. Thank you for making my day!

  10. What a wonderful story. I agree that there are many such unsung heroes. It seems to be the age of grandparents raising their young grandchildren. I pray for the folks daily. They have so much love to give. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. There’ll be a special place in heaven for those fine folks.
    Thank you for sharing a good news story.
    Names in plaques are fine, but this is the epitome of giving.

  12. I’m betting this will show up in a book to spread the good works of many to thousands who don’t follow your blog.
    I have personal relationship with three sets of parents/grandparents who took on this challenging act of love. Two of them adopted the children. God bless them all. A day of babysitting goes a long way.

  13. Thank you for this post. This Grandpa and ex wife are doing “what is right” for this baby. They deserve kudos for sure. Wonderful story.
    I am glad that you mentioned what grandparents do. Although there is not a tragic story involved in our family, we also are helping raise grandchildren. The cost of childcare is out of this world and we feel that is a way that we can help. But have realized how many hugs and kisses and cautions and stories and smiles and laughs that we have to offer these children.
    There are a lot of us out there. Just go to the grocery store, look out your window to see who is pushing that stroller, our grey heads are bobbing around everywhere. People smile at us like, “oh that is so cute” but you know what, we are part of that proverbial village that is raising children.
    I did not have this kind of help when I had my children so I know how much this is helping and only hope that the Grands have some happy memories of Grandma and GrandBear.

  14. Did you know that in Washington State grandparents have no rights. If this gentleman’s daughter shows up to take back her daughter, he has no rights. If you would like to help get rights back to grandparents in Washington state, please contact Lori Paine at (206) 948-4576 or me, Mary Blomberg at (509)430-1309.

  15. I am pooped just thinking about this whole situation. In all the news exposes and reports about seniors who do not have money saved to retire on, and there are a ton of rehashed stories on the internet, never once does raising your grandchildren ever come up as a reason. It should. Almost everyone knows of a friend or relative that is doing this very thing. The numbers have to be staggering. It is good to be reminded every once in a while how selfless people can be. You do it because it is right.

  16. God really does work in mysterious ways. Your story was one I really needed to hear. With the World going crazy we need to hear about kindness of others. I did hear one Starbucks had 143 pay forwards.
    This country has a real problem with drugs. It is taking our citizens an leaving lots of children in need . Thank goodness for your friend. And for you. I bet you had something to do with the help he recieved… have a great week. See you for coffee FridayMorning….Jan

  17. Thank you so much for sharing such an encouraging and uplifting story with us. By sharing the goodness of someone you know, you have brightened my day. I am so thankful I read your blog before going to facebook. Dang, woman, you are amazing.


  19. Off topic:
    On CBS Sunday morning today there was a segment on S. E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders. She wrote it on 40 page form at age 15. She received a D in creative writing. When she attempted to publish this young adult book later she was told Susan woukd just not help to sell, so suggested S. E.
    It’s sold over 50M and bet most of us have seen the movie.
    I’m thinking, OK CBS, when might we see a J.A. Jance segment?
    Another topic:
    Frankly, I disliked Man Overboard, cover to cover. But retrospectively, think it’s the best book you’ve ever written.
    Yup, I’ve read ’em all. Attending your signings added such dimension. Now I’ve gifted After the Fire several times.
    Thank you. ?

  20. I, too, am touched by the story of these two men. Glad you shared it. Along that line, I highly recommend Lesley Stahl’s Becoming Grandma, a mix of her personal experience and her reporting on grandparent activity around the country. Quite interesting to read.

    Also want you to know I have started the Ali Reynolds series and am enjoying.
    Your “connector” friend from the Tucson Festival of Books

  21. To quote the singer and songwriter Paul Williams “Every act of kindness is a little bit of love we leave behind”.

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