I'm waiting for a phone call, offering up a bit of news from Oklahoma City, where our grandson is due to be born.
Our son, Rocket, and daughter-in-law, Trooper, are expecting their first child, who will make his appearance any minute.
Rocket and Trooper's son will be named after his late great-grandfather. We'll call him Griffin. It's a marvelous and heavy burden to place upon a kid - living up to the legacy of a revered family patriarch.
Great-grandpa Griffin was a farmer, produce man, polka-pro, card player, fib-teller, belly laugher, and iron collector. He wore key overalls, and terrified us with the log-eating buzz saw powered by a thick belt attached to an antique John Deere that he fired up when the wood pile was low.
He was a savant with a welder, creating pipe trailers and cattle feeders out of chunks of iron he found in wind breaks and farm sales.
He built a perfectly balanced merry-go-round and hair-raising slide, which were well-loved and put to good use by his expansive crew of grandkids.
Old Griff hung out with his chums at St. Paul's Skyline coffee shop, each one-upping the other with their show-and-tell treasures.
They bragged over pictures of vacations and grandkids. They showed off their family dogs.
“This is a jar of ash my kid scooped up at Mount St. Helens right after it erupted,” Griff would say, flashing a Mason jar full of grey silt. “He rode his motorcycle all the way to Washington to check it out. Rangers had to kick him out of a couple places where he wasn't supposed to be.”
All agreed that Griff won show-and-tell that day.
Griff grew watermelons as big as dogs in the St. Paul sand that made up his farm. He taught Hunka Burnin' Hubby the fine art of “thumping” to detect the precise moment of tasty perfection. The family grew melons galore, which they sold at a famous produce stand in town.
I recall Griff standing proudly, seed corn cap cocked to the side, telling discerning ladies which melons would make their family dinners and reunion picnics extra special.
Old Griff was a family man, and never missed the chance to tell anyone about his brood.
“We had seven kids in nine years,” he'd say. “My wife is a saint.”
Indeed she was. Both of them were. They were of a generation that believed in sacrifice and hard work, dedication and deals made by hand shake.
Griff was my father-in-law, but he taught me the true meaning of fatherhood. It was no small task. My own father bailed on his responsibilities when I was two.
Griff taught Hunka Burnin' Hubby about fatherhood, too, which was passed along to our own two sons. He taught them about making something from nothing, and that persevering is never done in vain.
That's the essence of fatherhood, and the generations it inspires - sticking around, taking responsibility, and passing along the good stuff of life.
With Young Griff keeping us waiting in the days leading up to Father's Day, my mind wanders to what his dad will teach him in the years to come.
Rocket will instill his own brand of fine skills and marvelous oddities. There will be feats of engineering, noisy car engines, and camping trips spoiled by rain. There will be hiking and hunting and praying to the Lord. There will be reading and homework and high expectations. There will be fibbing and belly laughs, too, for good measure.
Young Griff will learn the values of honesty, faith and hard work, traits that sprout from the Schlueterville family tree - Great-grandfather, to grandfather, to father, to son. Generations come. Generations go. The foundations they lay build families, communities, and futures around the world.
And so, Young Griff, we anxiously await your arrival, and your own special addition to the Schlueterville family tree.
Happy Father's Day and ONWARD!