October 26, 2012 by palamow


Hello from Luquillo,

While striving to come-up with something interesting for this week’s blog posting, I came across this story which had been buried in an obscure hard-disc file – I wrote it sometime around 2008 and had almost forgotten about it until just now – It is an unapologetic paean to my grandson Jacob, describing some of his extraordinary qualities…

If you choose to give it a quick look – I’m confident that you will enjoy reading my enthusiastic grandfatherly musings, despite the odious qualities normally associated with such biased familial narratives.

I have added a postscript at the end (where else should one add a postscript?) to bring the story up to date…


My grandson Jake is amazing.  Hold on – before you hoot derisively (all grandfathers believe that their grandsons are remarkable) allow me to provide you with some corroborative evidence that should prove beyond doubt why my grandson is certifiably noteworthy…

Jacob is nine years old. He has spiky, carrot-colored hair, a liberal dusting of freckles on his nose and cheeks.  He is somewhat short for his age and weighs a mere 60 pounds. He has overcome these two minor negatives, becoming a lion on the soccer field, playing the difficult position of goalie with a great deal of accomplishment.  His football successes didn’t come easily – at his first practice when he had just turned seven, he reluctantly walked onto the playing field, clutching his father’s pants-leg with a death-grip.  It took a few more practice sessions before Jake mustered the courage to go on the field unaccompanied.  But that was then – now Jake is admired by his teammates for his fearlessness, regularly denying goals to rival teams despite his diminutive frame.  He has become a crowd favorite as well – families watching from the stands love his relentless displays of moxie, cheering ‘Jake-Jake-Jake’ as he makes yet another save…

Still doubtful?  Read on…

Two years ago, Jake, accompanied by his mom, dad and sister, came to Luquillo to spend spring break visiting his ‘Grampy Alan and Grammy Pam.’  Living in New Hampshire, he had been less than enamored of the ocean – ‘too cold, too scary’.  His initial reaction to the more tropical ocean in front of our condominium was equally unfavorable, thus he limited his activities to building sand castles far away from the water’s edge.  During the ensuing week his metamorphosis into a fearless ocean swimmer was remarkable. Starting with a tentative trip to the ‘kiddie’ pool, he graduated quickly to the ‘big people’s’ pool. Strapped into a miniature life-jacket above his swimming trunks, he swiftly demonstrated his ability by swimming unaided across the narrow part of the pool (‘I was a wild man grampy!’).  It didn’t take long for Jake to make his debut in the surf, which he did with jaunty fearlessness, accompanied by the reassuring presence of his father.

Still unconvinced?  There’s more…

Jake came into this world burdened with what most would agree were reduced circumstances. He was born in a rural town near St. Petersburg, Russia.  His parents gave him over to an orphanage soon after he was born – they were barely able to support the children that they already had.

Jake was an underweight, six-month old foundling with inherent symptoms of tuberculosis, when he was rescued from the orphanage by my daughter Lisa and my son-in-law Yvon who had begun the necessary arrangements with an adoption agency months before flying to Russia. The moment his adoption was official, his new mom and dad took him quickly by train to Moscow.  His new citizenship was celebrated at the US Embassy’s consular office – the consular official gave him a lollypop to grip in one little hand and a tiny American flag to clutch in the other.

The next day, brand-new American citizen Jacob flew home to New Hampshire with his adoptive parents, where he was breathlessly anticipated by his sister Nicole, who ‘couldn’t wait’ to play with her new brother…

At nine years of age, Jake is fully aware of his Russian heritage. His adoptive parents wisely gave him all the details early on.  One day, during a recent stay with us, he was asked by an older gentleman out by the swimming pool ‘Where did you get that mop of red hair and those freckles?’ ‘Russia’ Jake replied laconically, unfazed by such an obvious query…

Recently, my daughter e-mailed me with the news that Jake has been assigned to the position of shortstop on his T-ball team. I’m not exactly sure what T-ball is, but I am absolutely convinced that my extraordinary grandson will excel at it – his inbred ‘moxie’ will quickly overcome any challenge!

Finally convinced? Of course you are…

© 2009 – Alan Mowbray Jr.

Postscript: in the four years since I wrote this piece (Jake is now 13 – a teenager!) he has developed into a multi-talented sports player – adding basketball, and baseball to his soccer accomplishments, while striving for equal excellence in his schoolwork — and, I’m told, he may have acquired a girlfriend…



4 thoughts on “BITS and PIECES # 7

  1. mkhulu says:

    I have Canadian grandchildren, but no Russians yet. What (as PG Wodehouse would say it) you’ve even “one upped” me on that with your Canadian wife. Miss you, old pard.

  2. Christine says:

    What a wonderful story Alan. I loved getting to know your grandson thru “Bits and Pieces”. Keep writing your stories, love them!

  3. Hi Mo,…another enjoyable “read” of yours about your Grandson Jake and his developing
    braveness and skills in several sports,..I hope he will develop an interest in Chess,..i’m sure
    that he must have a Russian Chess-gene in his body….When I was 5-6 years old my Mother
    would take me with her to Poinsettia Park,..And while she played Tennis, the old Men at the
    Park would teach me checkers and then chess, which I love.
    Also, I just read your #64 about you and your balcony-buddy and co-bombardier Eddie.

    • Christine Simon says:

      Hope you will be ok w the storm coming. Your both in our thoughts and prayers! Have had company and now relatives from Tucson in town.. I’m better after my knee surgery. Going for PT 2x a week. Have had some awful humid and hot weather this past week! Glad it’s gone.

      Off to bed..PT tomorrow!

      Take Care Love Christine and Jim

      Sent from my iPad


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