The ones I protect now watch over me

Boomer Grandpa — Loren Else column sig

It’s been quiet around our house since the beginning of September. During the summer, every Wednesday, my wife and I would drive over to pick up our two grandkids from their house. Although they are old enough to take care of themselves, we looked forward to “Grandkid Wednesday.”

It was nothing exceptional. We would provide them a home-cooked meal and maybe play a couple games. My granddaughter and I would shoot some basketball, play some badminton and throw the football. We could tell both grandkids enjoyed the day. Their movements have been limited since March, so they welcomed a change of scenery.

When school kicked off, they both wished they were in the buildings of Mayo High School. It’s hard to envision how all of this would have played out when baby boomers were kids, as some families were quite large.

My one aunt and uncle in Kansas had eight kids between them. Their house wasn’t that big. When I was growing up, my family would drive down from Minnesota to visit them every summer. It was wild and crazy, but I loved them all.

I asked Sandi, one of my cousins from that group, how their big family would have managed if they would have had to isolate in their home for months on end. Several minutes later, Sandi finally stopped laughing. She said she couldn’t even imagine.


She did say her mom would have done the best she could. She figured her dad probably would have worked a great deal, and when home, probably would have spent a lot of time on the porch. That whole gaggle of cousins probably argued with each other like all siblings do in tight conditions, but they are a close-knit bunch to this day.

Sandi and I talked about how our generation rarely sat around the house. We were always on the go. We would have had difficulty staying contained and taking the proper precautions. Feeling invincible is part of being a teenager.

Back to my grandkids — sorry, I digressed. On our Wednesdays this summer, I noticed a maturity shift in our grandkids.

All of a sudden, in the midst of a badminton game, my granddaughter would ask, “Grandpa, you doing OK?” A few times when it was warm out, my granddaughter would say, “Grandpa, why don’t you come over here — there’s more shade on this side.”

I have been one of her protectors for the past 14 years. Anytime we were together, I watched over her like a bodyguard. Now, all of a sudden, this role is reversing. My granddaughter is worried about me.

I called my friend Tom Hennessey about this. Tom and his wife, Carol, have nine grandchildren. I figured he was a subject-matter expert on grandkids. Tom and I would talk often during workouts at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen each other since March, and now a notice has come out that the facility will not reopen in 2020. Doggone it.

Tom’s opinion is that this type of concern is normal for granddaughters. He feels they are more apt to worry about us. Tom said some of this may be coming from the COVID-19 situation. Young adults and children have concerns and anxiety about the ones they love.

Kids and high schoolers are pounded 24/7 with COVID-19 statistics, nasty politics, and other news, like violence in our cities, along with natural disasters. Tough stuff for our grandkids and this next generation to process day after day.


For me, witnessing my grandkids mature is a delightful second helping of observing young lives develop and flourish. When my granddaughter expresses concern asking, “Grandpa, you OK?” I can’t help but smile, look her in the eyes, and answer, “I am, very much so. Thank you for asking.” It’s pretty special being watched over.

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s “Day in History” column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at .

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