Grandchildren are the ultimate blessing |
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I recently made a quick weekend trip to Colorado to check up on the activities of my grandchildren — Ian, Nora and Claire McCance. My daughter, Sara, and her husband, Jim McCance, live in Fort Collins; it is always a treat to go visit them.

Each time I visit Colorado, I am impressed with the difference between that area and ours in Western Pennsylvania. Driving north from the Denver airport, the Wyoming slogan “Big Sky” seems particularly appropriate. You feel as if you are in the center of a hemisphere with the entire sky visible to you in every direction, a sky that always seems to be filled with a grand variety of clouds.

This time, Sara also pointed out an eagle soaring in great circles above us, and a large prairie dog village with a resident standing at attention and staring into the sun at nearly every hole. And of course, dominating everything to the west were the snow-capped Rockies, with Longs Peak reaching for the sky.

Nora, who is 13, plays goalie for a highly competitive soccer team that competes in a league that includes cities all along the Front Range, as far south as Colorado Springs, 130 miles from Fort Collins. This weekend’s game was in Aurora, 70 miles away. The Fort Collins team was overmatched and lost 3-1, despite a good performance in goal by Nora.

Ian, 16, has developed an interest in dramatics. This started two years ago when one of his friends encouraged him to try out for a high school performance of “Lord of the Flies.” Since then, he has had parts in a community production of “Fiddler on the Roof” and another high school play, “Alice in Wonderland.” This fall’s high school play was “Charley’s Aunt,” and his role was Sir Francis Chesny, a retired British Army officer. The play director suggested that Ian play him with a war-related injury that forces him to walk with a pronounced limp and a cane. He carried that off masterfully.

Originally, I was a little concerned about coming to Colorado to see Ian and Nora perform, fearing that 10-year-old Claire would feel slighted. Not to worry — she came home from school on Friday with two P.R.I.D.E. awards. These are given to outstanding students at her elementary school each month; receiving two is a real exception.

Award number one was for “P,” positive attitude. Her teacher praised her for being “a good model for all of us.” “I” — for “Insist on Safety” — was more of a surprise. It apparently was recognition of her habit of returning the food tray from the preschool lunch room each day.

In addition, Friday was the day she appeared on TTV, the weekly elementary school channel on which two students broadcast the weather, announcements and birthday recognitions for the current week. She certainly has the presence of a network TV anchor.

Claire is a classic third child, with the low-key optimistic personality of her mother, herself a third child. She and her siblings are a marvelous legacy for the efforts of their parents; we are proud of all of them.

John F. Oyler is a contributing writer.
You can reach him at 412-343-1652
or [email protected] Read more from him at

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