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RICH IN THOUGHT Being Papa For Grayson
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After the excitement wore off when I first heard I was going to be a grandfather, I wondered if I was destined to be a loveable old man who wore a little fedora with a feather and plaid Bermuda shorts with calf-high dark socks in sandals. Or, if taking after my family lineage, it was time for me to get in the role of ‘Papa’ and eventually start having a garden with zucchini, fava beans, tomato plants and other vegetables like both my grandfathers had when I was young.

So far, a little less than two months into it, I’m still a guy in jeans or cargo shorts with my Tommy Bahama or Corona sleeveless shirts and there’s nothing growing in my backyard except grass that the dogs haven’t torn up yet.

I knew I would be a “Papa” rather than “Grandpa,” “Granddad,” or even the Italian “Nonno” when the time came. My grandfather who I want to take after was Papa, and so little Grayson Phillip Weber will be calling me that also. I only hope I can live up to the image.

When the new guy was born in June, he came out at seven pounds, 13 ounces and was a lanky 21-and-a-half inches long, taking after my son-in-law who stands 6’ 6”.

Already Grayson’s fingers are so long I swear he could palm a basketball at six weeks old.

During my daughter’s pregnancy, I did my campaigning to have him named “Richard” but it wasn’t too well received. But think about it, doesn’t “Rick Weber” just scream sports figure?

“Now batting, number seven, Rick Weber, first base,” or “Rick Weber with the three point jumper.” Even growing up in Little League, couldn’t you relate to “Little Ricky Weber….?”

I already told my daughter and son-in-law that we should consider duct taping his right arm down for a few years so he becomes a lefty. Southpaw pitchers have a better chance of making it to Major League Baseball, especially tall ones – think Randy Johnson or  Steve Carlton – if not, I’d make sure he’d become an excellent stretch lefty first baseman.

After my daughter was married she defected from being an A’s fan and became a Giants fan to appease her husband, as all good wives should – the appeasing part, not being a Giants fan part. I presume the little guy will be raised with the same fan devotion, but Papa has a plan for that too.

Before I get Child Protective Services called on me, I have to admit I’m very protective of the nugget and wouldn’t do anything to hurt him – which includes strapping down an arm to vicariously live out my own MLB fantasy.

In fact, while Grandparents Day in the U.S. is the first Sunday after Labor Day, in Italy the holiday for grandparents, “La Festa dei Nonni,” is celebrated on Oct. 2 of each year. A much better date I’d say because Oct. 2 is also the day that the Catholic Church celebrates guardian angels, which are just what most grandparents seem to be, aren’t they?

Just the other evening I found out the joys of babysitting so that the parents could have their first night out in a while.

I probably made my wife feel like Wile E. Coyote after an encounter with the Road Runner flattening her out as I went to hold the nugget when he was brought downstairs.

When I cradle him in my arms I want him to feel comfort and assurance from the dangers the cruel world has to offer. On the contrary, I also want him to experience the joys of overcoming a downfall, properly resolving conflicts and to be there for him when he needs advice.

Regardless, I’m going to cherish these times because as I remember with my own kids they grow up fast.

It won’t be that long until he’s old enough when I’ll be able to take him to baseball games, follow Papa around (maybe) in a garden or be able to appreciate the infamous Papa game of “pull my finger.”


Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.