I wonder who my grandfather role model will be. I’d like to think it would be Ward Cleaver or Cliff Huxtable or Grandpa Walton. You know, solid, avuncular men whose every word is a life lesson or moral bon mot. Men with integrity and certitude. I hope I am like these guys, but I know that crazy, old Grandpa Munster will squeak out of me every once in a while.
Katie and Robert will make great parents. She’s a flaming New York liberal and he is the classic Southern conservative. And they seem to make it work. Robert still calls me “sir” whenever we talk and he calls my wife “Mama Trish.” Southern traditions die hard. I like that.
In a way, Connor Ray Duncan is my future right before my eyes. I will probably know him for about 15 years if I am lucky. And I hope to make the most of it all. I can’t wait to take him for a drive in his great-grandfather’s 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible with the tilt-away steering wheel. Or to show him where our little family grocery store was that I began working in at age 8. I will tell him how I started there making 25 cents an hour. He’ll be amazed when I stem-wind on about where I went to school in the 1950s and how I excelled at changing the ink pads on something called the mimeograph machine.
I will take him in his stroller down to the old railroad yards in Oneonta and let him pick up a brick from the weeds as I describe the World’s Largest Roundhouse. I’ll tell him of my own childhood heroes like Jackie Robinson and John Glenn. I will sing to him the songs of John Lennon and Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash. I’ll tell him about the time I took a limousine ride with the great singer Kate Smith, and about the time that Alabama Gov. George Wallace raised his middle finger at me at a political rally and about the time I won the Gong Show.