“Now that we know who is doing what, it’s time for the prepared speeches portion of the meeting. Each of our speakers today has prepared what I’m sure will be marvelous speeches. First up, giving her ‘Ice Breaker’ speech, is Debbie Hinkletoe. She has spoken many times in the past, but this is her first speech with us. It appears we are making her feel as nervous as Anne Frank practicing tuba, so let’s be sure to give her all the support we can muster,” joked the old man lovingly attempting ease Debbie’s visible nerves.
It was unclear whether the old man knew that the joke would, to put it mildly, step on a few toes. The few audience members cursed with the inability to resist a joke’s cue-to-laugh recognized their loneliness and quickly adopted silence.
Concluding the awkward moment, a respectable old woman declared, “Not funny.”
“Okay, meetings over. Thanks for nothing, you inconsiderate asshole!” seemed the words the audience expected to hear next. However, following General Waverly’s (White Christmas) advice, “If there’s one thing the army taught me, it was to be positive… …especially when you don’t know what you’re talking about,” the old man made the correct decision to let the moment pass and continue the meeting.
He couldn’t help but smile. He just witnessed an event only found in books: An old man putting to use his well-deserved ability to “not care”, and an old woman responding in kind. Oh, the subtleties of that moment. As if the back-and-forth had caused the air to congeal, a stillness overtook the room for but an instant. Neither mortal would yield. Neither should have. They both behaved perfectly. They both…were grandparents.
He always liked “grandparents” as a group, but he was never quite able to put his finger on why; until that exact moment.
But first, while it may seem obvious, the reader must learn what he believed a grandparent to be. A grandparent is not simply someone whose children have had children. By his thinking, to be a grandparent, one’s children must be (or have) raising their own children. Biological grandparents fulfilling the role of primary parent are not grandparents to him, then. This is a necessary qualification.
It seemed to him that something magical happened when an old person was fully released from parental responsibilities. The concern for ‘appropriate’ and ‘proper’ disappeared, rightfully so. Grandparents, then, were the living proof that even the loftiest concepts needed to be knocked off their pedestals every now and again. It was the exchange between these grandparents that revealed this truth clearly.
This realization had a second effect. It motivated him, for he was a parent. Moreover, he now understood that to earn his status as grandparent he must aggressively embrace his parental responsibility. Any wasted time or opportunity would only result in his missing out on the ability to someday be the salt of life, would result in his missing out on the near-sanctified duty to offend, provoke, insult, but also spoil, entertain, love.
More than that, he finally understood why, no matter what they did, he always felt loved by his own grandparents. It was because they wouldn’t be his grandparents if his parents hadn’t loved him first.