A Texas voice
A title is important in that it needs to give some idea of what the book is about, and it helps to be catchy. One that I'll always remember was the book that introduced me to the nowdeceased columnist Lewis Grizzard. This book was compiled after he underwent a multiple-bypass surgery. The selected columns were about his heart problems and his relationship roller coasters. The book was titled, "They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat."
I was walking the beach one morning, considering the evolution of my column. It's not that I started out with the intent of forming such an open relationship with readers; it just happened. I learned that people wanted to hear that others have the same thoughts, challenges, joys and thrills as they have. I titled the book, "I Would Ask You In, But You Already Are," suggesting that there was just such an open-door policy between columnist and reader.
That is usually rather true. You, the reader, usually know the main, current storyline of my life. And my wife and daughter were dragged along, both with unbelievable patience. My daughter was born on a Sunday, and a column on Tuesday announced it. I backed off about her boyfriends and such, but I had to tell you all about her wedding in Luckenbach. She warned Zack before they married, and he seemed willing to accept me as part of the deal.
Several weeks ago, my mother-in-law, Carolyn, met a woman, and they talked for a while. Carolyn told the woman about having recently become a great-grandmother. At another point, she mentioned that her son-in-law - that's me - was working in Antarctica. The woman had been reading my column, and the relationships all came together. The way I heard the story, it was as if the woman did not want to believe that I had a grandson. Maybe she didn't believe.
"He hasn't told us," she said.
It was a deliberate decision not to mention Charles' birth when it happened. Perhaps part of the reasoning was to allow Erin, the new mother, to process everything. Maybe I wasn't really ready to be called a grandparent. (No small consideration went into my choice of Papa for a grandparental name. I used the same name for my father's father. And, yes, I know that the child ultimately decides, but I have to give him somewhere to work from.)
What really made the decision, however, was my then-upcoming trip to Antarctica. I knew I would barely get a chance to know Charles before I would leave for almost five months. If I introduced him to readers at his birth, there were two negative repercussions. One, I would spend a long period of time with no first-hand knowledge of Charles' development. Two, I knew that I would have to talk with you about my travels. So, right or wrong, I decided to withhold information.
Charles is doing very well, I am told. I have had the opportunity to talk with him a few times. His parents are doing quite well also, and they're all three carefully monitored by four first-time grandparents, although one is doing it long-distance.
His grandparents and great-grandparents have already deduced that he is extremely intelligent, as well as a little bit spoiled. It seems preordained that he will continue to advance his Texas Aggie lineage and, last fall, he attended his first Houston Astros baseball game.
After I return home in a couple of weeks, I will be reacquainted with Charles and will take advantage of getting involved with his growing up. You will, undoubtedly, hear more, but we have many years over which to spread that, so I promise not to overburden you with pictures of my grandson.
Steve Martaindale is a self-syndicated columnist. Write him at penmanmail-steve@yahoo. com.