The Sage Connection

In praise of a grandfather


Grandmothers get a lot of press, publicity and praise. Grandfathers, not so much. So today, I want to acknowledge the men who partner with the grandmothers to make the lives of grandchildren so memorable.

Being men, grandfathers inhabit another world. They usually don’t bake, sew, knit, shop or do crafts. They live in an entirely different universe, one that grandmothers don’t often visit.

They are more often found fishing, hunting, building or putting toys together, watching or playing football, basketball and baseball games and coming in “just a minute” from their current activity.

At least that’s how it works at our house. I am speaking of my son-in-law, Joe Nannetti, who is the proud Papa of four grandkids – two girls and two boys. His grandkids are now ages 21, 17, 3 and seven months and I have noticed a huge change in his grandparenting between when he was new at the job and now.

With his first, a grandson, Joshua, his job required quite a bit of traveling, so he wasn’t present much of the time when he, and later, his sister Payton were brand new. And he mostly complimented the parents on how clever their babies were, when he was. He was not much help if the baby was crying or needed a diaper change, other than to point out the obvious.

As Joshua and Payton grew, there were more activities they shared. He Joe is a hunter and belonged to a gun club, so Joshua learned about gun safety and how to shoot at his side. He dutifully told Payton how pretty she looked after each shopping excursion with her Nana and how good her cookies tasted.

Fast forward and two boats joined the family – a go-fast speed boat and a family boat. Summers were spent camping, boating, tubing and working on the boats. But the grandson was usually with his Papa and his granddaughter was with her Nana.

They enjoyed trips to the movie theaters, Playstation and Xbox competitions, and more movies nights at home when everyone was together.

Fast forward again, and Prairie Thomas arrived. Papa was older this time and he stepped up his game. From holding her when she was a baby, to putting together her Christmas gifts, we sensed a change in his comfort level.

Now Papa and Prairie enjoy playing hide and seek. They play card games, build things with various building items, color pictures together and read stories.

Papa has a tractor and so does Prairie. His has several attachments. Hers has a radio, and they can often be spotted ‘tractoring’ together down our road. Happily, she lives next door, so if he is outside, she is usually at his heels.

He recently spent four consecutive weekends building a play complex from the ground up. It is a double-decker affair, complete with a rock-climbing wall, slides, swings, tunnels and an enclosed kitchen. I could live in it.

After one of our trees came down during a recent storm, Prairie requested a balance beam, so Papa promptly built her one (see photo, above). She has already mastered it and he couldn’t be prouder.

But one of the biggest changes came when Prairie’s little brother, Willow the Warrior, was born four months early. Willow had to stay in the NICU in the hospital in Austin TX, for four months until he could be safely transferred to a hospital in Tacoma; and it was Papa who flew there several weekends to spend time with Prairie while the mothers were with Willow at the hospital.

Eventually Willow came home for good, and it is Papa who has mastered the reading of signals from his various monitors, while holding him as he sleeps. Beeps and alarms do not bother him at all and he often reassures me that all is well.

Most nights he stops off to see the little ones become he comes home for dinner. He gets it. They will grow up too quickly, so memories have to start early. And the grandchildren of Joe Nannetti will have many to look back on.

Kathleen Anderson writes this column each week from her home in Olympia.  Contact her at or post your comment below. 


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