Last Tuesday, June 14 was a normal deadline day.
Which, if you’ve ever been in the communications field, you know is an oxymoron. There is no such thing as a “normal deadline day.”
But Tuesday’s deadline, a Tuesday evening meeting at city hall and the subsequent story were all forgotten at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
That moment, while sitting at my desk, I got the text message and accompanying photo that told me I was now a grandfather.
Life, and it’s priorities, changed for me at that moment, I think, just as it did that Tuesday morning in September, 1984 when I became a father for the first time.
Luke Michael Vinson, (see accompanying photo on page one) entered this world at 7:15 a.m. and I really wasn’t sure what to do – or whom to tell.
That feeling lasted for about 10-seconds and I’ve been showing any and everyone the 237 photos of my new grandson every chance I get:
• Customer buying a garage sale ad – loved the photo of my bleary-eyed son-in-law holding Luke.
• Doctor who prescribed me drops for my ear infection on Saturday noted how healthy Luke looked.
• The UPS guy delivering boxes of inserts could not wheel his dolly out the door fast enough – he saw pictures of Luke in his Alabama Crimson Tide onesie.
•Phyllis Weter, SoBoCo schools financial wizard stopped just short of saying Luke was the prettiest baby she’s ever seen. Of course – she’s got beautiful grandchildren of her own to brag about.
Everyone gets to see a picture of Luke – and his sleepless parents. At least for a week or so. I wasn’t going to be too pushy about showing off photos of my grandson…..but, well, you just don’t know the grandparent feeling, I think, until you see that grand baby.
Funny thing. As a newspaper publisher and general manager at three newspapers, I had a very clear rule about my own children:
“UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES shall the Wallace children be targeted to have their photos in this newspaper. If they are a member of a team, so be it. Otherwise, we publish photos of other people’s kiddos.”
This was generally followed – although there was one sports photographer in Texas who was sure he could get a raise if he took fantastic action photos of my fourth grade soccer player. They were terrific photos. He was wrong about the raise.
So my kids saw their faces in the paper only once or twice when they were on a ball team or in the school play. It is not such an unusual rule. Few editors or publishers I know favored their own kid over others.
That changes, I discovered, when you become a grandparent.
And I had more than a few friends here in Ashland telling me I should print one of the photos in the flag – at the top of page one.
“I can’t do that – he lives in South Carolina!” I protested to one friend.
“Sure you can,” my friend, also a grandparent, said. “You OWN the paper. You are now a grandparent. RULES – they go out the window.”
“Ahhh,” I thought out loud. “You mean it’s my job to teach this little guy how to drink milk from the carton, the importance of playing in the mud and how it’s OK to wear the same pair of socks three days in a row?”
“Well, uh, yeah – something like that,” my fellow grandparent said. “You have the right idea – just don’t let his mother catch you.”
So, Luke Michael Vinson, we are in this together, buddy. Your picture is on page one of today’s paper – breaking all the rules I ever set for myself and the newspapers where I worked.
It’s a good start – feels good. I look forward to meeting you next week, Luke.
Let the grandparenting begin.
by Bruce Wallace