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By Billy Smith

It startled me like few things ever have. Like an equestrian vagabond, I found myself subconsciously wondering through the world of unicorns on the deep-reaches of the Internet; more specifically, I was shopping for two horses. Two calm, kind, perfect Paints ready to carry the world’s most precious possessions—my grandchildren.
My walkabout for the perfect set of babysitters cultured itself over the last several months when my tranquil world suddenly shook, and I awoke to this involuntary quest. In a whisper of time, Ms. Mindy and I have gone from empty nesters with two grown, single and driven adult children to welcoming two sets of in-laws and then two new babies (my children have never been prone to wasting time).

In that whirlwind, I’ve fallen into this deep and mystical world of grandfatherdom: the mystical life-walk where second-chances blossom like Texas Bluebonnets in the spring. The standards to which I now aspire are lofty and with time have grown steeper and more impossible to climb. Like too few grownups today, I was raised within a few miles of both of my grandfathers. Both of them live on in my daily steps and very often in my nightly dreams. They counsel, cajole, humor and prod me forward. Quietly and persuasively, they churned the soil beneath my feet and grew the tales of sacrifice and caring that reclaim a spot in my every day, usually when I need them the most.

This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Winter 2017 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.