Poetry, musings, reflections, life

Thirteenth Birthday Letters

In 1993, I wrote a letter to my first-born grandchild. He had just turned thirteen. Thus, a tradition was born, that of writing special letters to my grandchildren for their thirteenth birthday. That has continued, as each one became a teenager. And finally, October 23, 2006, the youngest of six turned thirteen. I wrote the last of those special letters to her. I say the last, because I cannot duplicate the circumstances for which I wrote the letter in the first place. After all, one only turns thirteen once in a lifetime.


When my first grandchild was born, it was a very exciting event in our family. He was a super star sensation. He claimed all our attention, after all he was the first. And, I was still a young man. It was about that time in my life that I began writing. First a mediocre poem or two, then progressing to perhaps more sophisticated poetry and writings (certainly my opinion and it does reflect the core beliefs of this writer). Each succeeding birth of a grandchild was no less exciting than the first. Each brought special qualities to their parents and especially to their grandparents.  But I stray off point.  


In these thirteenth birthday letters, I wrote about them no longer being teenagers, about the circumstances and situations that would come into their lives and offering my unasked for advice for dealing with those events. Not that my advice was of any earth-shattering proportions, but it was from my heart. In each of those letters, I spoke about the love of their parents. And, about a faith in God.


Recently, I reminded one of my granddaughters on her 21st birthday, of her letter and she remarked that she still had it in her possession. That was my goal, for each to someday, read it to their children and grandchildren. Each of my grandchildren still has those special qualities I spoke of earlier. Their individuality shines through. Who knows, it may spark a desire in each of them about their future.


Well, the reason I write this today is that my youngest granddaughter is graduating from high school. I am very happy to know that all my grandchildren have now graduated from high school. I am very proud of each one, as are their parents.

I am also very proud of their parents as well, for instilling in them a sense of direction, of completion and of striving for excellence. A grandfather knows these things.


It is noteworthy that just as the thirteenth birthday letter tradition ended, so too does another milestone pass. Life is a series of milestones at we arrive, even almost daily. Birth, first day of school, driver’s license, last day of school, career, marriage, then we start the cycle all over again, only this time we get to see it from a different perspective.


My years have begun to add up. When I was a thirteen-year old boy, I never fathomed that I would be a grandfather, much less a great grandfather. (Soon to be twice!). I was too busy being a teenager.  

I still have one grandchild who is a teenager, albeit not for much longer. As she graduates and enters the next phase of her life, she can be assured of one thing, her grandfather’s love and admiration. And just as her cousins have passed this baton, she too will make her parents and grandfather very proud. And before I forget, I am now a proud great grandfather and am expecting another in November. I hope I can begin writing thirteenth birthday letters again. In 2023, I will only be a young eighty-five years old. Now that will be a milestone.


Have a great day.


June 2, 2012

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2 thoughts on “Thirteenth Birthday Letters

  1. Justin Keys on said:

    Brought a tear to my eye with that one! Your advise may not had meant that much to us back then, but it sure comes in handy these days! And somewhere, I do believe I still have my letter. I love you grandpa!!

  2. rossie on said:

    It is neat to put thoughts on paper, in a letter, etc. Thoughts on paper leave a lasting impression.

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