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Harry feeding Baby Charlotte.
My son, who has made occasional appearances in this column, took his sweet time in the grandchild department.
I have always been fearful that having spent 13 years being taught by public school teachers constantly disappointed by his school board father he might have sworn off of ever having his own. Certainly, telling him after every parent/teacher conference that he was much too clever for the grades he got was guaranteed to make him contrary. I will be forever grateful to Pizza Luce for hiring him to wash dishes. I can think of few things more motivational than years of dish soap.
Skipping ahead two decades my son has a PhD in chemistry-physics that has taken him to the labs of an eminent university and now, as he begins fatherhood, he’s managing a medical laboratory at an equally eminent medical school.
Give me a moment to pantomime the polishing of my knuckles above my shirt pocket.
If we get some serious snow in Duluth before New Year, people may wonder why it remains unsculpted. It won’t be the first time.
After I was elected to the school board in a previous millennia the hand-delivered Duluth News Tribune reported that just maybe I had become too important to be bothered with such folderol. I made sure not to disappoint my city.
Today my back is 30 years older. Someday that will explain why I am shirking public expectations. That will not be the reason for this holiday season. A few days ago we grandparents packed our bags and journeyed to Colorado to meet our first granddaughter.
We are making a long stay of it because we are certain our son and daughter-in-law will need us to help them catch up on sleep.
I haven’t been much help yet. Baby Charlotte has kept her exhausted parents up the last two nights while I have slept well. Today I woke up one year older with the best present imaginable. I got a chance to add a couple ounces to the newest Colorado Welty but not until a leisurely 7:30. My better half had relieved Charlotte’s tired mother at 5 am.
My son’s recent move to the Rockies insured a new crop of family here. My Uncle Frank, another occasional subject of my columns, knew the mountains like the back of his hand. He delighted in taking his buddies from Kansas on rigorous hikes a mile and a half higher than their Kansas lungs were used to. I have a cousin, Frank’s son, to visit in the mountains while I’m here.
Charlotte, who betrays no sign of oxygen deprivation, has a cannula and tubes sending her oxygen because of her extended three days in the NICU and Denver’s thin air.
Denver the “Mile high” city has 20 percent less oxygen than can be inhaled at sea level. For the time being she is tethered to a bassinet on wheels.
After my modest contribution – holding a bottle – I felt driven to be more useful. Colorado’s newest Weltys had to scramble to find housing in the current rip-roaring housing market. Billionaires are buying up houses by the tens of thousands to charge sky rocketing rents. Nineteen of 20 calls my son made for rentals went unanswered. The last one was a rental that had been shared by half a dozen medical students too preoccupied with learning to save lives than bother with cleaning their home.
He was lucky. Even so he’s paying monthly rent which is the equivalent of 7 to 9 months of the rent his parents paid when they first moved to Duluth.
The kitchen decks in Charlotte’s first house had been given a good swabbing but really needed to be scraped down like a ship’s hull. So on my birthday morning, after filling up Charlotte, I did what I wanted to do. I headed to the kitchen and cleaned it to within an inch of its life.
My better half asked me if I would so the same when we got back home. I told her that when Charlotte comes north I’d consider it.
I told The Reader yesterday that I was going to take a holiday from the column. I changed my mind about that after getting a raft of congratulations on Facebook for my birthday and my birthday grandchild. I decided it was a worthy topic for a column. We will see if the editor saved me a page.
The other night in a conversation about the devilish problems with the Internet my son wondered if he should be worried about what people might discover about him online. He’s a father now. He has important responsibilities. What would his employers think. He might have been talking about Facebook but I kinda suspect he has his father’s Reader columns in mind.
You can take the yackity-yack out of elective office holders but that won’t shut them up. I sing “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte” to put my granddaughter to sleep. I’m such a hypocrite.
Welty also shoots his mouth off at lincolndemocrat.com