A great, great story from Ford Turner of the Patriot-News—80-year-old single father prepares 11-year-old for middle school (8/31/09):
Kenneice Duncan, 11, is being raised by her 80-year-old step-great-grandfather, Glenn Graham of Middletown. Graham recently lost his wife to lung cancer. Kenneice Duncan of Middletown will make the big jump to middle school on Monday, and she and Glenn Graham plan to handle it together. They must.
Graham is raising Kenneice as a single parent in his Middletown home since his wife died on July 17. Graham is 80. Kenneice is 11. He is a former paratrooper who works two jobs. She is a Hannah Montana fan and wants to be a veterinarian and famous singer. “We just do it,” Graham said of keeping their family going. Graham once jumped with the 82nd Airborne Division. He and Mildred Graham were married for 42 years. Years ago, her granddaughter had difficulties that prevented her from raising her own three children. Glenn and Mildred Graham took over the job when each child was small. The older two have graduated from high school. Kenneice was anticipating the start of sixth grade when Mildred Graham – whom she called “Grenny” — died of lung cancer at age 85. Kenneice said her Grenny’s last words to her were, “I love you.” She calls her step-great-grandfather “Glenny” and keeps an eye on him when he boards his motorcycle. He said he spoils her. She said, “I like being spoiled.”
A few comments: 1) I guess the 11-year-old girl keeps her great-grandfather young. I have an 11-year-old girl and she keeps me young and she’s so wonderful that if I needed to live to be 110 to raise her, I could probably do it. 2) It’s not a central part of the story but Glenn Graham grew up in a segregated, racist America. I doubt growing up he’d ever thought that he would someday be raising a little African-American girl who clearly adores him. A huge and positive change. 3) I love this former paratrooper’s can-do attitude–“we just do it.” A hero father. Thanks to Barbara Thompson for sending the story.