William Snesrud of CrossDove Writers

Many times, in our life we have an event that just doesn’t seem to be a big deal at the time, but as we continue down that roadway of life, the event comes back to us again and sometimes in ways we just never imagined. One of those events in my travel of life involves D, D & E or as the initials represent – Dennis, Denise and Erika.

Twenty-plus years ago I was doing some writing for our local newspaper and happened to be given the opportunity to interview our local ‘zoning cop’ as I would call him or officially the County Planning and Zoning Administrator. Dennis and I already knew each other from church and while he, his wife, myself and my wife had become friends we were still just casual friends at the time. But that seemed to change after I had the opportunity to do a profile on him and get his quiet, dry humor personality to accept the nickname ‘zoning cop’.

As time moved forward, Dennis and I became pretty close friends, and as I learned many years later his middle son had also become a good friend of my daughter during her later days of high school.

Things like life itself rolled along and as my wife and I purchased our first home it was Dennis, his wife and their youngest son who pitched in with help in getting it ready for our moving in – you know with things like painting and cleaning up.

Then came that weekend and the the event that changed it all, the weekend when Dennis showed the perfection side of his personality when he tried to help me get a new door to fit in a not so perfect doorway into the bathroom of our new home. We drove thirty miles to pick up the door together, had a wonderful chat along the way – though now when I think about it, the chat had mysterious undertones which I did not see as I remember my friend Dennis questioning death by suicide and the connotations it had with getting into to heaven and the grace involved with such a trip.

While he became utterly frustrated with that door and left for the day just a bit irritated for not getting it just right, I continued on into the night and the next day finishing that door until it fit just nearly to perfection. Sad was the realization that I never had the chance to tell my friend Dennis of my conquest, as my friend who I saw as like the older brother I never had, died just a few days later when he lost his own personal battle with demons I did not know.

I was a pallbearer at the funeral for my friend Dennis and from there life moved forward until the next step in fate as some would call it.

Staying close to the family, my wife and I rode the whirlwind of that middle son, John, getting married the first time and having a couple of delightful daughters, Denise and Erika. It was my wife who spent the day with John at the hospital while little Erika had surgery to fix a blemish on her heart. It was we who stood by Brit, the widow of Dennis, as John’s first marriage collapsed into the rubble that so many bad marriages and divorces end up being.

So, for several years I spent my time as I would call it later on, as that ‘extra Uncle’ hanging around in the background of life for John, Denise and Erika – at least until that fateful curve in life where my own daughter went through a marriage that dissolved into rubble and returned home where she rekindled that high school friendship with John.

As it turned out those two became more than just friends, they fell in love and choose to combine the families and became husband and wife with four kids.

That friendship with Dennis took a new turn for me on that day when I had the sudden explosion of a new reality going off in my mind like fireworks. It was then that I came to the realization that those two wonderfully sweet daughters of John, Denise and Erika, were now officially family to me and I was going to have the opportunity to be a Papa (or Grandpa) to those girls that Dennis wasn’t here to be.

Sometimes as a step-parent, and in my case a step-grandparent, the fit just has trouble getting comfortable due to different personalities, not knowing the kids earlier in life, and so on and so on.

Not for me, I was thrown the opportunity to go from becoming the ‘extra Uncle’ in the background as I called it, to becoming the grandfather they did not have and from that moment on my path of life was granted two extra bundles of joy and heaven on earth.

I remember the day I sat down with the two girls and tearfully told them how honored I felt to have the opportunity to be the grandfather to them that Dennis was not here to be and not a day goes by, especially when I am with the girls, that Dennis is not on my mind and hopefully watching from somewhere in the great beyond.

I’m sure I could write more about this ‘Papa’ thing with Denise and Erika, but with Denise getting ready to graduate from high school I can’t help but reminisce about the honor that a curve in my road of life bestowed upon me to spend these years being the grandpa to these two most precious girls, now young ladies, that Dennis was not here to be.

For me the experience has been not like many step-grandparents go through as they get introduced to new young ones joining the family by a marriage. No, for me it was more like just stepping in and stepping up to take care of these two delights, Denise and Erika, as if they were my own grandkids and thanks to that friendship of some 20-plus years ago with their Dads Dad, Dennis, I have been blessed with that opportunity of being just a lovable, eccentric ‘Papa’ that I can be instead of just a new old guy in the life of somebody’s kids.

The story here is, never underestimate the people you have as friends, for you never know what that friendship may unpack in the way of presents along the path of life you may be traveling.

Thank you, Dennis, for becoming my friend, and a thank you to Denise and Erika for letting me unpack two more opportunities within the wonderful world that we now call being ‘Papa/Grandpa’.

(Copyright@2018, CrossDove Writer – no part of this may be printed, copied or used without written permission.)