03/10/2014 01:29 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

6 Things I Hope for My Granddaughter, My 'Jelly Bean'

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So I come out of my heart procedure with some daunting news. I need to go in for yet another Angiogram and likely stent insertion -- more heart trouble, more bad news about my upside down heart that evidently doesn't work all that well. Seems my open-heart surgery three years ago was not a resounding success. At least this time, it's stents and not cracking my chest open.

So my son and daughter-in-law decide to inform my granddaughter (I have always called her "Jelly Bean") and my grandson (whom I call "Smoothy") -- five and three-years-old, respectively -- about what's happening to Grandpa... at least an explanation in five and three-year-old language. They listened attentively, with eyes glued and ears perked to the somber, but hopeful message about Grandpa's upcoming surgery.

At the end, Jelly Bean raises her hand -- like she's in school -- and asks the profound question. The one adults wouldn't think of, but five-year-old-brilliance can't avoid. The timely, strategic bottom line thought that would only emerge in the swift, endearing mind of a young lady of her age:

"Does this mean Grandpa will be able to hear better?"

Kids come up with the darndest things. And they always make sense. She knew Grandpa had a problem and why not conclude that it surely must be connected to the fact that he always says to me, "What?" "What's that? -- Didn't hear it all." Frankly, as I get older, my hearing is descending downward and likely pointing to the next fun chapter of my life: the hearing aid chapter.

And I think she was saying, "Grandpa, I hope you listen to me better." Five-year-olds don't come right out and tell you they long to be listened to, to be loved unconditionally, to be heard, amidst the din of adult conversation and adult priorities. She loves her grandpa and wants him to listen to her with all his might and strength.

So I chuckled at her remark; yet it made me think long and hard about hearing. Not the kind that comes between the ears. But the more important kind -- that answers the question of how well I really hear in life to the things that are important. How well I hear my dear Jelly Bean and my dear Smoothy. Hearing isn't always about sound and vibrations. It really does have more to do with the heart.


I love when my Jelly Bean comes to visit. She creates the finest parties serving tea, complete with water that must come from the best tea leaves, contained in miniature tea cups surrounded by, I think, the tastiest crumpets, perfect muffins and conversations refined and most captivating. She fills the room with her laughter, that I love to hear, and her gorgeous smile makes me realize what life is all about.

I watch her with delight. And when I do, my hopes leap forward like I'm in a race to see what she will say next, and I start thinking about the woman she'll become.

For you, my Jelly Bean, are made of the finest sugar. You show up in all kinds of colors and flavors that warm my heart and soul. One smile and I'm taken in -- taken in like only a grandpa can experience. But it's because you are so special. All bias set aside of course. I know no one would argue with me.

And so there are six things I hope for my dear Jelly Bean:

1. You never stop serving tea.

But sharing tea must always be with someone who deeply loves and appreciates you -- never because you're just supposed to.

2. And surely find a mate who serves you too.

Not with just tea, but with the greatest love and affection.

3. Marry someone who listens well.

Never settle for anything less. Learn first about his heart and make sure he's someone you can lean into, who can hear your voice.

4. Marry your soul mate.

The one who wants to share life with you. The man who sits down to enjoy your smiles, your laughter and all the special ways you bring light to those around you. The man who will love you, even if you burn the crumpets or spill the tea all over the ground.

5. Never lose your imagination.

Live by it. Find a life partner that shares your dreams and works with you to make them happen.

6. Always know how special you are.

Never forget that. You're unique and a joy. A real joy to those who know you. A complete joy to your grandpa.

Thank you dear Jelly Bean for reminding me of what matters. You will always matter more to me than you can know. What you have to say and the things I get to watch you do bring joy to my life. I'm truly blessed to be your grandpa.

And know this...

...I hear you Jelly Bean.

I hear you.