My children didn’t have grandparents nearby. In fact, they really didn’t have any grandparents that were active in their lives. And yet, they didn’t suffer in the least for the lack. For one reason only: they had surrogate grandparents.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about the kind of grandparents that spoil you and smother you with affection. My children’s surrogate grandpa was a hard working farmer.
It started out one day at church.
That Sunday afternoon, a man named Bob struck up a conversation with me. He saw we had a pew full of children, and knew we had just moved into the area. As our conversation progressed, we learned a little more about one another.
We found out that Bob was the 4-H leader in our area. Now, I need to explain that this was a farming community. In case you’re not familiar with 4-H, there are many crafts and skills, kids can learn. However, each club has its own flavor, if you will.
Bob’s club was all about horses.
This, of course, made my little girl’s eyes light right up. And soon we were attending regular 4-H meetings.
Somewhere along the line, my daughter told Bob that she wished we could have a horse.
He might as well have said, “Your wish is my command.” Because, at that moment, Bob turned into her surrogate grandfather.
The next day, he showed up at our place pulling a horse trailer. In it were two horses: a mother and daughter pair. Their names were Molly and Dolly and they were inseparable friends.
Remember, I said that this was not a grandpa who spoils. Bob was a grandpa that cared about the character of children. Yes, he brought her two horses. With those horses came a lot of work.
Early one morning, I heard Bob calling my daughter from outside our house. It was summer, and she was sleeping in.
He called her name, and said, “Those horses have to be fed before you feed yourself. They’ve been up since the sun came up. They’re hungry and thirsty.”
That girl sprung to her feet and raced outside.
Her surrogate grandpa taught her the value of hard work.
He taught her that loving something living, such as a horse, meant you put their needs first before your own.
While working alongside her, they had many conversations. At the time, he didn’t have grandchildren of his own. So he adopted my children as his first grandchildren.
Together they shoveled horse manure, took trips to the state fair, and shared fried chicken dinners bought out of a gas station. There was never anything fancy or expensive exchanged between them.
Later, Bob was blessed with grandchildren. However, he was the only grandfather my daughter ever knew. And the best one she could have ever had.