By RICHARD MEEHAN
The Cool Justice Report
Oct. 29, 2007
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
There are transitions in life that I've come to appreciate as the years speed by.
As young parents we waited for the first step, the first word, filling up each successive baby book. In a heartbeat the toddling turned to T-ball, then basketball, high school, college, even law school. Still, the family kept growing. With five sons we have watched a thousand games, endured stitches in the emergency room and danced at some weddings.
We are waiting now for our eighth grandchild. Tyler Thomas Meehan is going to be his name.
He's to be followed in pretty short order by another, as our third married son and his wife are expecting as well. Luca Meehan is due to land here around St. Patrick's Day. That's pretty fitting for a kid with an Irish last name and a Sicilian first name. After all, wasn't St. Patrick an Italian who drove the snakes from Ireland? Well, he was really born in Rome-dominated Britain, but who knows for sure ...
My wife has prided herself on the accomplishment of raising five sons, an oddity in our age group when most families are much smaller. Her license plate, BOYSX5, proudly proclaims it, although as Yankee fans we are constantly warding off claims that we are part of the Red Sox Nation.
Through the years we've remarked how different it would be if we had little girls. We became accustomed to the rambunctious nature of little boys struggling to become young men. A run of six granddaughters has helped us understand the differences.
I've coached baseball, basketball and football -- we could never figure soccer out. The garage and shed were always crammed with skateboards, bats, gloves, cleats and a dozen basketballs. At one point we actually had three hoops up in our driveway, one dedicated to what the boys called "small ball." That's where they hung the hoop 8' off the ground and practiced Jordanesque dunks off trampolines. There were a few ER trips surrounding some of the less than spectacular dunks!
For the last eight years we have learned of Barbie dolls and Hannah Montana. With each successive grandchild we've tried to find some unique connection.
I decided that I wanted them to call me "Papa" rather than grandpa. With each one as they struggled to learn new words I would lobby for "Papa, Papa. . ." There was clearly a method to my madness since soon after saying Mama and Dada, Papa was an easy third for each of them.
On sleepovers I would awaken early, coffee in hand, waiting for a stirring in the bedroom we made over just for them. As soon as I heard a peep I'd crack open the door and ask, "What time is it?"
"Papa time!" would be the instant gleeful response. I always found those mornings sitting on the couch, a young granddaughter cuddling with her bottle and blanket, to be special moments -- Papa time.
My wife, of course, related so much better to them throughout the rest of the day. When Papa time was over then grandma ruled. I soon needed another approach. Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes became my specialty. From there we evolved to Christmas trees, stars, and pumpkin pancakes. Of course, being only the Papa, and not charged with their daily nutrition, I lavished those pancakes with sprinkles, colored sugar and food coloring. Pancakes have become the ritual Papa time once was.
My son Brian, the expectant dad of Tyler, made his daughters pancakes the other day and Arianna, the six-year-old, remarked, "Dad, their okay but their not Papa's!"
Our newest toddler is 15-month-old Sienna. Her mom had gone back to work and Tuesdays were my wife's days to watch her. She would pick her up from her dad early and bring her home. I found myself arranging my appointments and court cases to free up those Tuesday mornings with her.
Our grandchildren have been an immense source of joy. We've endured sorrow as well as grandparents when we lost our then three month old grandson, Christian, to SIDS four years ago. These new little boys soon to arrive have brought back many thoughts of that little guy that we knew for so little time.
When I was coaching son number three, Danny, in baseball, one of his teammate's dads was my assistant, Walt Sibiski. That fellow's dad came to every practice and every game, pitching in with anything the kids needed. I marveled at the devotion that Grandpa Sibiski paid to that grandson. When Danny called last week to tell us that the ultrasound revealed that they were having a little boy I saw bit of Grandpa Sibiski begin growing in me.
My boys have spoken lovingly through the years of both of their grandpas, gone now. Each had some unique quality that they saw and cherished. Whether it was trips to Florida with one or New York Giant football games and fishing with the other, the memories will always be special. From that I've learned the importance of being a loving grandpa. That love lingers far after you've gone. I'd like to think that years from now when these children are making pancakes for their own kids they will always think of Papa time and smile.
Bridgeport attorney Richard Meehan Jr. was the lead defense counsel for former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim's corruption trial. Meehan is certified as a criminal trial specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1994 and serves on the organizations Board of Examiners. He is a Charter Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America -- Trial Lawyer Honorary Society. Meehan has also obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements in complex medical and dental malpractice and personal injury litigation. He is a past president of the Greater Bridgeport Bar Association and appears regularly on Court TV. Website, www.meehanlaw.com