Boomer Grandpa: Positive relationships need a front seat

May 18, 2017

Off we flew with seat belts buckled and wheels up. Crew and passengers on the flight were kind and well behaved. In fact, it seemed like everyone was being extra nice to each other. We were on our way to Duncan, Oklahoma, to visit our son and his wife.

When your kids move far away these visits are part of your planning process. As a parent you feel an emotion that tells you it’s time to see your son or daughter. Of course you need to find just the right balance with your visit – not too long but time to reconnect.

You need a few mornings to leisurely drink coffee. A sunny afternoon to grill out and chat in a lawn chair. A few evenings are required to try some local restaurants and take in a movie. Finally you need some time to have some ice cream and play a few board games.

Our son and his wife are busy. I guess you could say they are in prime time of their married life. Both my wife and I remember this time. We recall early after we tied the knot always being one of the youngest couples at an event – it was indeed a remarkable time.

During this prime time you may get lost a little. We did anyway. Family relationships took a bit of a back seat. You’re always on the move. Eventually life teaches you to settle in a little as you raise your children, dig into your career and say difficult goodbyes to family members and even friends along the way.

A few weeks ago my mom had to be transported to the emergency room from her assisted living facility. A young doctor asked my 96-year-old mom what she thought the problem was. My mom answered by saying, “I’ve lived too long.” It was a powerful statement that reminded me of the difficulties of life that she faces on a daily basis.

Boomers who still have living parents as well as grandchildren have a remarkable gift with this range of relationships with someone born in the 1920s to someone born in the 2000s. It’s a joy to look back as well as looking to the future.

I enjoy visiting Oklahoma. I view it as cattle country along with being a big gas and oil production state. You see farmland, small towns and friendly people. The community of Duncan is located on the famous Chisholm Trail which was the major route north from Texas for the longhorn cattle drives to Kansas after the Civil War.

In the beautiful Bricktown in Oklahoma City there stands a very nice statue of Mickey Mantle, my first boyhood hero. I’m sure many of you baseball fans recently heard the news a couple of weeks ago about the racial taunts suffered by Adam Jones, a major league baseball player of the Baltimore Orioles.

Jones spoke up about being the target of verbal racial slurs as well as having a bag of peanuts thrown at him. I guess in a sense with all the division in this country it does not surprise me but it certainly saddens me. Unfortunately baseball has a long history of fans calling players every name in the book.

Soon after that I read that former Twins player Torii Hunter said he heard the N-word on many occasions and had objects like household batteries thrown at him while he was on the field. I just can’t wrap my brain around the fact that someone would come to a major league baseball game and say things like that as well as throw objects at a player.

I believe major league baseball is evaluating more severe penalties for those who throw things, swear or yell unacceptable comments. Here, here, I’m all for it.

Tell on the bullies

As fans we need to follow the strategy that our kids and grandkids are told in school about being bullied. Speak up. Find stadium personnel and tell them.

The last thing I want is some bonehead saying hateful things to a ball player near my grandkids. As boomers we are heading down the home stretch in our life. Relationships no longer take a back seat – they take front seat, or you could say a box seat.

Strong and positive relationships bring us purpose and happiness, in particular on a warm and sunny Mother’s Day in Oklahoma.