By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
There is nothing like a close family.
Danny DeNoon was raised in one. So was his wife, Pamela. And they’ve made sure their daughters — Dannette Tobin, DeAnna Snyder, Cassie Dumire and Patricia Price — grew up knowing that warm, special feeling of belonging and being loved.
Now there’s a whole new generation of DeNoons — eight grandchildren — and he is ecstatic.
“What it is with me is that I have a lot more time to enjoy them and do things with them,” he said. “When you’re a parent, you’re busy making money and trying to do things for them, to set their lives up.
“A grandparent has a different kind of bond. You’re older, wiser. You tend to see troubles coming down the road and tend to guard them more. You have time to see things and do things.”
His grandchildren come in bunches: Shae Snyder, 22, and brother Drew, 19; Caitlyn Tobin, 17, and sibs Christa, 14, and Cruz, 10; Malakhi Price, 8, and sister Makenna, 6; and Jude Dumire, 5.
He loves his daughters, he said.
“But when I saw Shae born, it was different for me. I always looked forward to the day when we’d have grandchildren, and that day, I was just bubbling. I felt so well-pleased! And of course, being a girl, she just fit right in. I was used to that. That was OK.”
And as proper grandparents, they spoil their little ones.
“We do things we literally didn’t have the time or means for our kids. Now we’re older and softer. We leave the parenting to the parents.
“But if I see a child heading down a bad road, I don’t hesitate and say, ‘Let me give you some advice. Take it, fine. Or don’t. That’s OK. I can’t make you take it. But you’re too young to recognize the trouble.’
“I’ve paid some prices, too. As a parent, you come down on your kids a little harder. You’re the one who is responsible. That’s the way I always felt. My parents were tougher on us kids than their grandkids.
“But at the same time, they expected respect, which we do. I just give more leeway now. I expect their parents to be the parents.”
He didn’t know his father’s parents very well, he said, because they lived in Moundsville.
“We didn’t visit all that much. But they were good when we visited. Once they moved to Rivesville, we visited more.”
But his mother’s parents lived in Watson.
“We had a good relationship. We visited quite a bit.
“The best thing about being a granddad comes back to I don’t have to do the parenting,” he said. “I enjoy giving advice but I don’t have to come down on them.”
And then there’s all the granddad things he gets to do. Ball games. Practices. And best of all, Sunday dinners.
“My wife and I have Sunday dinner every week, unless we’re out of town. She does the cooking. We have anywhere from 15-22 people. That’s a lot of people to cook for. But we do this because it feels special. We do it because we love family. We believe in family. We preach that to our kids and their husbands.”
And if somebody doesn’t show up, “We send them stuff home in a carry-out tray,” he said with a chuckle.
“Today’s society is so scattered. Everybody goes their own way. I believe every family should take time to be a family, whether it’s Sunday or Saturday, a meal or just getting together to watch a movie. Just to keep the family bond. My wife feels the same way.”
Family is on his mind a lot, he said.
“I was adopted. My mom and dad raised us and adopted us. They had a large family of adopted kids.”
At one time, there were 14 kids there.
“The most from one family was six,” he said. “The next was two. The rest of us were from here and there.
“My wife was adopted by her grandma and grandpap after her parents died at an early age.
“So we’re both from families that believe in family. We learned what family is about. That’s what we live by.”
Family is about unity, he said.
“When someone gets in trouble, family is there to help. Whatever the situation. You talk it over and help them work through it.”
They’re continuing this in their grandchildren, he said.
“We tell them that. We show them that. I’m not afraid to tell my grandkids, or anybody else, that I love them, no matter their age. If I see my kids in public, I tell them I love them. When we hang up on the phone, we say we love each other. These might be the last words you get to tell them. You don’t know.
“This may sound like ‘Ozzie and Harriet,’ but that’s the way I believe. That’s just how it is. It’s the truth.”
Theirs is not a perfect family, he said.
“We all have our ups and downs. We don’t always agree. But I tell them to stick around a day or two. If you’re up today, tomorrow may be your day to be down. But your family will be there to look out for you.”
Four daughters. Eight grandchildren. It was bound to happen, but he never thought it would.
“I never thought I’d have so many grandchildren,” he said with a laugh. “I figured two or three. Then I upped the ante to four. I think we’re done now.”
Granddad is also the clown of the family, as quick to torment the little ones as they are to torment him.
“Any old way they find to pick on me. Well, I take and I give back. They call me ‘old man,’ you know how it works. But I love it and it doesn’t bother me.”
Grandparents have an important role in their grandchildren’s lives, he said.
“You show the kids from the word git-go that you’re behind them. In today’s world, a lot of kids are beat up bad. Not so much hit. That’s out there, too. But there are different aspects of beat down. They need to know they can come to you and know they have shelter, a place to go to, where they can talk to somebody and release their feelings for the good things as well as the bad.
“A grandparent can do that. We don’t have to do the parenting. We can do the grandparenting.”
Email Debra Minor Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.