Happy Father's Day, Christopher, our fourth.
Each year since you were born, I've taken time to tell you about the fathers who preceded you: myself, my father and his - an important task since you will never know two of them any other way. I can't tell you much about my mother's father, except that he was an amateur inventor and a strict disciplinarian - that's the grandfather I never knew, just as you never will know one of yours.
Truth be told, in getting to know your other grandfather - the one you call your Pappy - you probably got the better deal.
I didn't know him until 15 years ago, when I met your mom. In the time we've known each other, he's learned to tolerate me, and I've come to respect and admire him.
He was cordial but understandably tentative about the man who suddenly was dating his daughter. But he welcomed me into his home and gave me a chance to prove I was worthy of her companionship. Time passed, and your mom and I were married.
It was about that time that I realized for the first time what a good father he is. Some friends of your mom were skeptical of our future, and even tried to convince her she and I should not be together (there are times, as in all relationships, when she probably wishes she had listened!) Her father showed that he had faith in her - by extension, faith that he instilled good judgment in her - telling her that if she wanted to marry me, she had not only his blessing, but his support and his confidence that it was the right decision.
Of course, he already had proven himself a good father to her long before we met. He spent most of his life laboring to provide her and the rest of his family with a home, struggling as the only breadwinner in the family. He instilled positive values in her - the same kind she and I want you to have when you grow up.
Your mother became the first person in her family to go to college, something she was able to do because her father worked even harder. He took on a second job, and I'm sure more than a few loans, so that his little girl could achieve her dream.
I know, you say, that's what parents are supposed to do. But all parents don't. Some parents can't. Your Pappy has proven that he can be a good father.
But he's also proven more - he's proven to be a great man for his whole family.
When things go bad for members of his family, he's always there for them. But again, that's expected. Then there's extraordinary.
Your grandmother - your Meme - has had problems as long as your mom has been alive. But as your mom and your Uncle Dave grew up and started their own adult lives, their father had to take on the burden alone of caring for his wife. And then, when things took a turn for the worse, he just kept on going.
Truth be told, Christopher, I have no idea whether I would be able to do the same thing for your mom if the circumstances were identical a generation removed - and, quite honestly, I hope I never have to. But you've had a chance to see how your Pappy's devotion to his family did survive a generation these past two months, when you and your mom have been guests in his house, helping him while he recovered from surgery.
If you grow up to be half the man your grandfather is, you'll be a better man than me. But more important, I want you to learn from him - and from me - how important it is to be a good father. Every day that you can be with him, you are able to learn that lesson from a professional.
Happy Father's Day, Ron, our 16th. I hope you get at least twice that many with Christopher.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.