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Updated: 10/21/2012 08:00:13AM

Grandchildren, God’s way . . .

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S.L. Frisbie

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“If I had known how much fun grandchildren were, I would have had them first.”

“Grandchildren are your reward for not killing your children.”

“God couldn’t be everywhere at once, so he invented grandmothers.”

“Grandchildren: like children, only with return privileges.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave us grandchildren.”

“Grandma’s kitchen. Children welcome. Cookies and kisses free.”

“Babies are God’s way of reminding us that He still loves us.”

The first six are legends often found at craft festivals or gift shops, inscribed on plaques or wall banners.

The last was something Dad told me shortly after the birth of our first child. It is the only one that doesn’t refer specifically to grandchildren, but he was my father, and it deserves to be in this brief anthology.

• • •

Mary and I are blessed with five grandchildren, ranging in age from 10 months to 10 years. The joy increases with each new one.Two are Lakeland-Americans, one is a Gainesville-American, and two

are Ethiopian-Americans.

I have written about them from time to time, as I did about our own children. Kids reach an age when they do not wish to be written about any longer, and I am sure they will tell me when the time arrives.

And this disclaimer, which I often included when writing about our children so many years ago: yours are just as special to you as mine are to me. I am merely your surrogate when it comes to writing about kids.

• • •

More than four years ago, Addisu joined the family, adopted from an Ethiopian orphanage in Addis Ababa. He was not quite 2, and the eight or 10 words of Amharic that I learned so I could speak to him in his native language served me well until he learned English.

In the interim, his brother, Asher, was born to Julie and Loyal Frisbie-Knudsen in Gainesville, and Addisu dotes on him as only a 6-year-old can dote on an infant.

In the meantime, Loyal and Julie were pursuing adoption of an Ethiopian little girl. The process is not like the movie stars do it: driving down a dusty road, seeing a bunch of cute youngsters, and saying, “I’ll take that one, and that one, and that one. Have them delivered to my nanny at the airport tomorrow morning.”

A foreign adoption takes longer than a pregnancy, and there is good reason for caution.

Early in the year, Loyal and Julie received photos of Meron, then not yet one year old. In May, Loyal flew to Ethiopia for the court hearing, and by wonderful coincidence, was able to spend Meron’s first birthday with her at the orphanage.

It took from May to early October for the adoption to work its way from the court system through the diplomatic process, but at long last Loyal was able to return to Addis Ababa and bring Meron home.

It was a joyous day for the greater Frisbie/Knudsen/Frisbie-Knudsen family.

After waiting a week for Meron to become acclimated to her new family, I went up to Gainesville to become a part of her life.

Julie was holding her when I walked into the room, and Meron waved at me. It was the first time she had waved at anyone. It was a good omen.

It took a few hours before she would agree to leave the security of her mother’s or father’s arms and come to Ahyat, the Amharic work for grandfather. But by the next day, we were fast friends. And we waved at each other often.

• • •

A grandparent’s chief job, and chief joy, is spoiling grandchildren. Mary and I have had four grandsons to practice on.

They have trained us well.

Meron will benefit from that preparation.

And oh, Dad was right.

• • •

(S. L. Frisbie is retired. Retired, but hardly idle. Retirement gives him more time for the really important things in life. Like grandchildren.)