Rummaging through boxes I stumbled across a note from The Little One, circa the end of the century. Written her last days of high school, she was promising to see me more once at college.

Parents miss kids post-divorce; Lord knows I missed her. Family dynamic what it was back then, let’s just say our time together wasn’t what it should have been. I could have pushed harder, sure, but she was in the middle and yes, we survived. Still, as lamented so long ago, “I never saw her brush her teeth”.

‘Got used to it. Even accepted it as she grew up…healthy…then moved away. As did Michael, I might add. And JJ. Gone to Windy Cities and Empire States to spawn beautiful children whose teeth again I wouldn’t see cleaned.

In a movie just viewed, Artie and Diane Decker flew east from out west to spend time with their grandkids. Studying the mantelpiece, they saw picture after picture until, finally, they found themselves.

“We’re The Other grandparents,” rued one, wistfully.

There was a time that might have bothered me—a time I may have felt the victim…the outsider—-a time (perhaps), I’d have slunk down in that theater seat, hearing those words, feeling pain.

But I don’t.

Wayne Dyer says ““If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” He’s so right.

Four grandchildren live away and I can’t change that. Unfortunate as it is, the separation was presaged by Generation Y’s exodus from my dying city. (If anyone’s to blame, I suppose, ‘tis the stream of clowns running northeast Ohio). No one stays. Why should they? None of my kids gave serious pause to staying in Cleveland.

And still, when I picture Max in that Yankee cap flanked by people with New York accents, or as I think of Lucy in a highchair while her father and her father’s father sit cheering “Da Bears”, I fret not.

I see not myself, the grandfather absent. That must be. I see, rather, the grandparents present—that which is.

My kids are lucky to have family around them—family that breeds not only family, but the feeling of family.

I was discussing the movie with Stace today. (She’d seen it too, and that line—the reference to “the other grandparents” —she’d heard it too).

“When I’m in New York,” I reminded her, “There’s never a time Stuart doesn’t step aside and let me bat first with Max.” As Rooney well knows, there’s never a trip my machetunim don’t open their home to me, minimizing my costs… maximizing my relationship with The Prince.

I choose, then, not to dwell in an equation where miles make me meaningless. My world, and pray tell, Max’s, is half-full, not half-empty. We share a realm in which I not only feel, but know that Meredith’s parents invite our visits and encourage our interaction.

Grandparenting is not a competition; it’s an interaction. Max is blessed to have vibrant, caring kinship surround him. As is Lucy. My barometer is set, of course, through the Millers, but with the Rooney’s bambina still an infant, I expect no less looking west. Jason’s family has been nothing but inclusive and Bonesy? His door is always open.

So I don’t pout that they are there, and I don’t feel like I’m less than equal. I am, if you I need a label, The Further— not The Other.  And I pray that as my children did, my grandchildren too grow up… healthy…and move away.

Perhaps even to Cleveland.

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