May 26, 2021 Lifestyle

Grandchildren: Make Them the True Dividends of Your Life

Francis H. Morrison

Our journey to the “back nine” in our round of life started with our pondering who would be there for us, and the survivor of us, as we make the unavoidable transition into senior status.

It was 2018, we were in our seventies, and had done a lot of world travel (two world cruises of 100 days each), and the realization hit us that we needed to plan our senior years. And that we would be much better off making required changes, e.g., financial adjustments and sensible care and living arrangements before they arrived and limited our choices.

We concluded that we would pull up stakes and relocate to be near family and grandchildren. We had a divorced son with two daughters aged 12 and 16 in Chicago and a married son and daughter-in-law in Charlotte with 8-year-old boy and girl twins and a 10-year-old girl. The difficulties of uprooting and resettling in Charlotte, just ahead of the pandemic, were myriad, challenging, and exhausting. That can be our story in another piece. This piece is the story of the richness our grandchildren have brought our lives.

The Chicagoland Granddaughters

While we didn’t relocate to the Windy City, these granddaughters have been dividends of our lives in every sense of the word.

Our Chicago granddaughters

Our Chicago granddaughters

In late March, we spent several days with the girls and their mother on a mountaintop in Black Mountain, N.C., with stunning views of The Shenandoah. The 12-year-old, Abby, is the taller of the two girls on the right. She is in middle school and is our budding actress. Pre-pandemic we attended her theater performances.

The 16-year-old, Anna, is a rising high school junior north of Chicago. She is an all-A student and runs track and cross country like her father and grandfather—we have even watched her meets on YouTube. The girls are coming to Charlotte with their father for Memorial Day weekend. Grandma Sally is very close to them—early in their upbringing, their mother’s territory for a major international pharma company based in Chicagoland included south Asia—and Sally spent many days helping raise them on site.

The photos and the glowing smiles tell you all you need to know about their dividend status with Sally and me.

Our Charlotte Grandchildren

We have spent many holidays with the Charlotte grandchildren since we moved here in August of 2019. An example was Thanksgiving 2020. Grandparents and grandchildren were full of holiday cheer—evident through our pandemic masks!

Masked up for the holidays with the Charlotte grandchildren

Masked up for the holidays with the Charlotte grandchildren

We spent the day connecting with far-flung family members on FaceTime (my then 98-year-old mother and the Chicagoland grandchildren) and played some of our favorite games.

Here I am playing Dominos with granddaughter Sarah and son Matt.

Teaching the kids dominos

Teaching the kids dominos

And Grandpa playing and being stumped in a game of "Ticket to Ride" with Sean and Sarah.

Grandpa trying to figure out how to get a "Ticket to Ride."

Grandpa trying to figure out how to get a "Ticket to Ride."

Sharing Artistic Endeavors

Grandma Sally is a highly accomplished, life-long needle pointer who has shared hundreds of pieces with family and friends. The irrepressible joy both she and granddaughter Claire get from Sally lovingly passing on this life skill beams from both of them.

Needlepoint lessons with Grandma

Needlepoint lessons with Grandma

Claire’s pride on completing her needlework homework for Grandma lights up the room.

Claire’s pride on completing her needlework homework for Grandma lights up the room.

Claire recently returned our love for her by giving us a watercolor she did of her and her  siblings. It sits in a place of honor in our house.

Claire recently returned our love for her by giving us a watercolor she did of her and her siblings. It sits in a place of honor in our house.

With Granddaughter Sarah, we admire Claire's yellow pumpkin art work, that was chosen to represent the work of over 200 1st graders at her school expo

With Granddaughter Sarah, we admire Claire's yellow pumpkin art work, that was chosen to represent the work of over 200 1st graders at her school expo

Grandchildren's Sports Activities

Granddaughter Sarah is in her second year of a gymnastics program. In this photo, she awaits the signal to start her floor exercise at the virtual North Carolina state championships. She was fortunate enough to finish first on the beam (which scares Grandma and Grandpa!) and second overall for her age group.

Sarah starting a gymnastics floor exercise

Sarah starting a gymnastics floor exercise

Grandson Sean is an enthusiastic baseball player who is catching up for the loss of a year’s experience to the pandemic. Watching his little league games hearkens back to the days sitting at his father’s and uncle’s little league games 30 years ago.

Sports provide wonderful life opportunities about respect, following the rules, controlling one’s emotions, and learning that no one wins all the time and that is okay and that isn’t the measure of character anyway. 

Sean (almost) hitting it out of the park

Sean (almost) hitting it out of the park

Sarah, Sean, and Claire all enjoy bicycle riding. We have enjoyed it with them, taking trips to the recycled bike shop. Watching them pick out bikes that day was just pure fun. And, we did the same thing with Anna and Abbey three years ago.

Grandma & Grandpa inspect Sarah, Sean, and Claire's bikes

Grandma & Grandpa inspect Sarah, Sean, and Claire's bikes

Making Cookies with Grandchildren

Baking holiday cookies with grandchildren brings sweetness far beyond the sugar, vanilla, sprinkles, and chocolate used to make them. It survived the pandemic, but not masks, in our grandchild bubble. Claire’s thumbs-up, Sean’s studied use of the flour sifter, and Sarah’s closeness to the mixing bowl are dividends that speak for themselves, truly embodiments of the legal doctrine “res ipsa loquitur.”

Claire & Grandma on cookie duty

Claire & Grandma on cookie duty

Sean mans the sifter

Sean mans the sifter

Sarah guards the sheet pans and the batter

Sarah guards the sheet pans and the batter

Some Final Thoughts

Our bet on tearing up roots to achieve closeness with our grandchildren has been repaid handsomely with our grandchildren's love and experiences that are simply priceless. Another dividend, when they have had enough of Grandpa and Grandma, or Grandma and Grandpa are beyond tired and need a break, home beckons. Everyone knows that more visits await. We made the absolute correct choice moving here in 2019—especially because it was before the pandemic.

Entity:

Francis H. Morrison

Partner, Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider, LLP

Francis H. Morrison is a partner at Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider, LLP in its Connecticut office. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross (A.B. 1969) and served as a line officer (duties in weapons, ship’s legal and cryptography) in the US Navy on USS Grand Canyon (AR-28) (1969-72).  He graduated from Duke University Law School in 1975 (with distinction, Note and Comment Editor, Duke Law Journal).  He then practiced trial work at Day, Berry & Howard, LLP (nka Day Pitney, LLP) for 32 years before joining his present firm in 2007. 

 

His trial work has included bench and jury trials in the following areas: patents (pharma, electrical engineering and plasma physics); trade secrets; trademark; products liability (aviation accidents; mechanical failures and toxic torts); professional medical liability; insurance fraud and bad faith claims; governmental corruption claims; commercial disputes and personal injury cases.  He served a term as Corporation Counsel in West Hartford, Connecticut.  He is a Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers; certified by the National Board of Trial Advocates and ranked in Chambers for commercial litigation.