Opa's Second Chance
Peter G. Wallace believed that being a grandparent was a better deal than being a parent — all of the love and almost none of the work.
"We get a second chance," said his wife, Charlotte. "We may not have the energy, but we have a lot of patience." Mr. Wallace had five second chances — Andy, Zachary, Kristen, Lauren and Benjamin. They called him "Opa" and "Pa."
Mr. Wallace, 66, still worked as a vice president at Marsh & McLennan, but he always had enough time to read to his grandchildren. The titles he read were the same enduring Dr. Seuss classics from his daughters' childhood — "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham." When one grandson wanted a story read, he would pull the glasses out of Peter's shirt pocket and hand them to him.
A few days after Sept. 11, Zachary, 5, looked up and exclaimed that he saw a star against the daytime sky. His skeptical father looked up, and surprisingly enough there was a shimmering white speck fixed against the blue. What could that be, asked the father. The boy responded confidently, "That's a star from God to show that we miss Pa."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 8, 2001.