We sail along through our lives, enjoying the highs, disregarding the lows as much as possible, and not really focusing on the legacies we will leave behind in this world. I am no different from anyone else in that regard, and we only think about making changes when something new enters our lives.
On February 4th, 2019, one of those so-called “new” things came into this life of mine. William Robert Degraffinreed the Fourth entered this world at eight pounds and five ounces. Babies are born all the time, right? So, what makes this kid special? Well, he’s mine. My first grandchild, whom I held in my arms two weeks later. As I held him, I whispered to him my hopes and wishes for him, along with some poetry and a few vows I plan on keeping. One of those vows was to be in his life as a granddad, mentor, and cheerleader. That was the second time I’d whispered into a baby’s soul, and as I held ‘Four,’ I remembered making the same types of promises to his mother, my daughter Amari Shanise Hayes, affectionately known to me as ‘Junebug.’
Amari’s birth came when I was 19, and it changed my life. Her existence made me want to be a better person, a better man, and it changed the course of my life. Knowing she would need me, and acknowledging I wanted to watch her grow up, I steered the track of my life back onto a mostly straight path. It signaled the end of any slightly criminal activities, because I did not want to be visited in jail by my child. I think it worked out the way God intended.
Holding Four, I realize I’m 27 years older than I was the first time I vowed to make changes. My reality is different, and my worries are those of a man approaching middle age. I’m not worried about what I’m going to do with my life, because I’m already doing it. No, my newfound issues have a lot to do with my two beautiful daughters and my amazing grandson. I wanna see what happens next with all of them.
I’m not as spry or energetic as I once was, nor am I anywhere near the shape I was in back in ’92. Hell, or ’02. I need to be though, or as close to it as I can manage. Which means I need to change some things, in order to be a healthy Daddy and Grandpa. When folks get to be my age, we realize we’re in the third quarter of our life, and things which were once far off thoughts are now constantly in our face.
I started working out daily back in December, and I lost weight, plus I gained more energy. Sadly, the holidays came along and I created excuses not to stick to my exercise regimen or my calorie count. Well, that is now back in the mix, along with scheduled doctor’s appointments. I’m going to shed all of the things which are not helpful to my soul and my health. I owe that much at least to my kids and my grandson.
Overall, I’d say I’m pretty healthy, but I have to do better. The time I once took for granted is running out, and I want as much time as I can get. I wanna see Junebug ascend to the heights she’s capable of. I wanna see my youngest daughter Kymberlee get her college degree, having overcame learning disabilities, bullies, and an apathetic generation of peers. I wanna walk them down the aisles, shedding tears as we march. I wanna play catch with Four, and take my grandkids on road trips, and see their Little League games or recitals. I wanna see as much of their stories as possible. The only way I can see all of that is to take better care of myself.
Health, love, and family equates to happiness and fulfillment, and I’m all in. Yes, life is a banquet, and I will devour adventures, happy events, and as much love as I can. Maybe not as much fried chicken though. I plan on being here for quite a while longer.
Marlon S. Hayes is a writer, blogger, author, and poet, who has fallen in love with his grandson, and gets emotional when he talks about his daughters. His books can be found on Amazon, and he can be followed at Marlon’s Writings on Facebook and marlonhayes.wixsite.com/author. Life is a banquet…