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A Thank-You to My Grandparents Remembering the Loving Family That Shaped Me on National Grandparents Day
Sept. 8 is National Grandparents Day, so it seemed only fitting to take a moment this month to remember my grandparents, four wonderful people who did a lot to mold me into the man, father, and attorney I aspire to be. Though both of my grandfathers passed away when I was young, they were caring men whom I wish I’d gotten to know better. My grandfather on my mother’s side, Donald LaForge, served in the U.S. Amy during World War II as a tail gunner over Italy. He’d just graduated from St. Michael’s High School in Michigan when he joined up, a decision I’m sure took a lot of courage. Before heading to law school, I majored in history, and the historian in me would have loved to talk with him about his experiences and sacrifices during the war. He passed away when I was just 3 years old, but his stories live on in our family, and I always enjoy hearing about his life. My father’s father, Charles Patrick, was a doctor who grew up in Norwalk, Ohio. Though I didn’t get much time with him before he passed, I distinctly remember the moment he gave me my very first set of golf clubs after retiring to Arizona. It was a miniature set for kids, and, though I didn’t grow up to be much of a golfer, I’ve since passed the clubs on to my 4-year-old son, Michael. He loves to go golfing with my father, so maybe skill on the green skips a generation. As for my grandmothers, I was lucky enough to spend many years with them. On my mother’s side, I remember my grandmother, Margaret LaForge, as the quintessential Irish lady. She was with us until about five years ago, and she loved everyone in the family dearly. My fondest memories are of the times she sang traditional Irish songs, like “Over in Killarney” and “Galway Bay.” Now, I sing those lullabies to my daughter, Catherine. Even though I lack her Irish brogue, it's my own way of remembering my grandmother and passing on her traditions.
Naples, Florida, when she presided as the matriarch over family gatherings, especially Christmas. She loved to spend time with my father and his sisters, her grandkids, and her great-grandkids. One thing that has always stuck with me was her emphasis on dressing
well. She was very particular about making sure the family’s clothes were all tucked in and nicely ironed as it is a sign of respect for yourself and others. When I was a teenager, she even tried to iron my Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirts! Though I used to joke with Grandma about it, now I agree with her and always try to follow her advice. These days, my parents are grandparents, too, and it has been wonderful to see how much joy they’ve given my kids, and vice- versa. I can see the traditions I developed with my grandparents — of spending time rather than money, and focusing on reading and playing together instead of just offering new toys — are the same ones my kids now enjoy. My parents live just an hour away in Cherokee County, so we see them about once a week. I’m thankful they and my wife’s parents, who are also excellent grandparents, live so close by. Not only is it amazing seeing them bond with our kids, but their proximity means we can get a good night’s sleep every once in a while! When my kids grow up and I get to be a grandparent myself, I’d like to pass on the tradition of taking trips to the Chattahoochee River. I love taking Michael and Catherine there to play near the riverbank, and, while it might not be as safe as the playground in the local Chick-fil-A, I think it’s good for them to enjoy nature and get muddy. If that’s my legacy, I’ll be one proud grandpa.
My grandmother on my father’s side, Jean Patrick, was with us for a very long time. I like to look back on her later years in
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