I met Ian Russell Walker for the first time 10 days ago.
He seemed like a delightful chap, a little small, not much of a conversationalist, but with a handsome face, a fine mop of hair and an easy, contented air about him.
He is my grandson, our first grandchild. I have such high hopes for him.
The first time I held him, less than 12 hours after his birth, he looked up, his eyes already open and big as saucers, and smiled.
My wife, Sue, said it was gas.
I'll remember it my way.
Ian missed sharing Sue's birthday by 11 hours and one minute. Instead, he arrived just before midday on his great-grandmother's birthday, a mere 95 years later.
There is something eerily appropriate in that. Ian's mom, my daughter Amy, is the spitting image of my late mother. They were so close, and remain so much alike, that Amy insists her grandmother visits regularly. A bump in the night, a light bulb dimming for an instant, an open cupboard door slamming shut; it's always Grandma Dorothy.
Well, I imagine my mom and dad were joyous looking down from above, clinking cocktail glasses in a very special birthday toast, a vodka martini for her, a couple fingers of Makers Mark on the rocks for him.
The other great-grandparents, Sue's folks from New York, met Ian in person a couple days ago. The bond was immediate. Their last name is his middle name and that didn't happen by accident.
Merry Christmas! The most magical day of the year, the day we celebrate the birth of a baby, is especially magical for our family and I hope for yours, as well.
There are plenty of sports to write about. There are bowl games galore in the coming days, including one involving the Toledo Rockets. Pro basketball finally starts. The NFL playoff races heat up. Prep hoops galore over the holidays.
To heck with all that.
This is from Grandpa to Ian:
I hope you become who and what you want to be, whether it's an athlete or a scholar, or both, like Aunt Beth … whether it's a musician or an artist … a scientist or a chef … a teacher or a mechanic … whatever brings you joy.
I hope you are kind to animals, polite to elders, and that you learn from watching your daddy how to always treat women with respect.
I hope you play hard and get muddy and spend your days outdoors, not sitting in front of the TV watching crap.
I hope you don't bully and are never bullied.
I hope you laugh often, but are never afraid at any age to cry, to be emotional, to feel.
I hope you love books and reading far more than lying around hours on end playing violent electronic games. What a waste of, well, living.
I hope you are spared serious illness or injury.
I hope you like puppy kisses as much as grandpa does.
I hope you never drink and drive.
It's sappy, perhaps, to wish for peace on this particular earth, but it is Christmas day and my hope is you never go to war.
If you do, I hope you are not too very afraid, but gallant and a leader of men.
I hope you remember the Christmas baby and honor Him. Nobody is perfect, but good people try to be.
I hope you someday fall in love and that it is forever.
I hope you have a grandson and the first time you hold him he looks up at you and smiles.
Trust me, it isn't gas.
Merry Christmas, your first, young Ian … and to everyone.
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.
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