Robert and Rita Wilson had plans.
"I was going to be retired by now," Robert Wilson said. "I was going to do this, I was going to do that -- and I was putting money away."
Those plans changed nine years ago, with one phone call.
Their son's girlfriend was on the line, saying they were in a bad situation and couldn't care for their 1-year-old.
"I went out and picked him up," Robert Wilson said of his grandson, Kyler Baumgartner. "We've had him ever since."
Now they spend their evenings helping with homework, going to ball games and practices, and driving Kyler to Scouts, guitar lessons and birthday parties. They're still working, and days off are planned around school breaks.
"Our friends tease us, because we thought we had our lives completely laid out," said Wilson. "The weird thing is, if you asked me to go back in time, I wouldn't change a thing."
The Wilsons say they're lucky. They have the ability to care for a grandchild, and still have a good relationship with his parents.
"I've heard that doesn't happen a lot," said Robert Wilson. "I've heard horror stories, through the grandparent grapevine."
It's a situation full of challenges, according to Mark Bigler, chairman of Weber State University's department of social work and gerontology.
"When grandparents are raising grandchildren, there's often some other family conflict or challenge that's involved," he said.
While dealing with the emotional stress, and sometimes the legal issues, of family crisis, grandparents may also face economic challenges -- especially those on a fixed income.
"Financially, we took a huge hit," said Wilson. In addition to delaying retirement, he and Rita cut back a side business to spend more time with Kyler.
JoAnn Schanzle, of Layton, had custody of 4-month-old and 14-month-old grandchildren for four months. She finally accepted some financial assistance from the government.
"I've heard a lot of grandparents say they don't want to do that," said Laurie Favero, manager of the Utah Caregivers Support program for Weber and Morgan counties, explaining that the government tries to recover money from the child's parents.
Insurance is also an expense. Pam and Jack Posell say their great-granddaughter was covered by Medicaid when in foster care. She didn't qualify after they adopted her.
"I said, 'My husband's retiring, and we're going on Medicare,' " said Pam Posell, of Layton, "They basically said, 'That's your problem.' "
So, at age 67, Jack Posell is still working, and it will be many years before their preschooler turns 18.
The adoption also changed their lifestyle.
"We had friends that were the same age we were, that camped and took four-wheelers out, and we would go as couples. We just couldn't do that anymore, with the baby," Pam Posell said. "As far as socially, with friends and stuff, we hardly do anything anymore because it puts us in a whole different bracket."
Schanzle said she stopped everything but working and taking care of the kids, because it took so much energy.
"I was devastated," said Schanzle. "I wasn't prepared for the roller-coaster ride I went through."
If her daughter hadn't been working to get the children back, things might have been different.
"I would have started looking for adoptive parents," she said. "I knew I couldn't do it full time."
Patsy Seach says it can also be a challenge to bridge the generation gap.
Seach and her husband raised a granddaughter from fourth grade to adulthood.
"All of a sudden, I had this little kid,
and there was a generation between us," said Seach, of Clearfield. "We didn't understand the music and clothes and all of those things, and had to get used to it in a hurry."
The generation gap isn't just cultural, but physical.
Inge and John Holmes took in their great-grandson when he was just 3 weeks old, and then adopted him. Inge Holmes was in her 70s.
"That judge looked at my husband and he said, 'You are 67 now. Do you know how old you are when he's 15?" she remembered. They needed a doctor's note attesting they were healthy enough to raise a child.
Now 80, Holmes says she still plays ball and other games with her great-grandson.
"The challenges are that, at 8 p.m., I'm ready to go and sit down -- he's not," she said.
She has prepared for the inevitable, letting her great-grandson know that she won't live forever.
"He said, 'Nana, when you go to heaven will I have another mama?' " she said. He was satisfied when told he would be taken care of by another family member.
The Wilsons are comparatively young, and, at 54, Robert says that in some ways he feels younger because of his grandson.
"I weighed a lot more a few years ago, and he made it clear that wasn't good," he said. "I started biking again, lost weight, and he and I ride bikes all summer long together. He got my wife doing it, too."
Age and experience can, in some ways, be a positive.
"I remember all the mistakes from the first time," said Robert Wilson. "I think the wife and I are more patient for the little things -- things that the first time were huge issues, now you just go, 'Whatever.' "
When grandparents take over parenting responsibilities, it changes the relationship.
Kyler calls the Wilsons "Papa" and "Grandma," but realizes their situation isn't that straightforward.
"One time, when we were riding bikes, he stopped and looked at me and said, 'This is a daddy-son thing, huh?'aaaa" Robert Wilson said. "I didn't know how to answer. ... Finally, I said, 'Yeah.' "
It's harder for younger kids to sort out.
Holmes' great-grandson called her "Nana" until entering preschool.
"He needs a mama -- all of the other kids have mamas," she said. "When I go to pick him up, he runs, 'My mommy, my mommy, I love you!' "
Raising kids a second time around is hard, grandparents say, but worth it.
"I love them so much," said Schanzle. "I couldn't stand the thought of them with a complete stranger."
By taking temporary custody of her grandchildren, she knew they were cared for, and she was able to help her daughter and keep the family together.
Posell admits that she and her husband feel some guilt about enjoying this round of parenting so much.
"When you're raising your kids, and you're younger and you've got a bunch of them, it's like you're in survival mode," she said. "With this one, you've got the time, because it's just one, to really enjoy and become super involved in everything."
For Robert Wilson, the joy is in the close bond he has with his grandson.
"He and I hang out a lot," said Wilson. "Today he said, 'I just want to do something alone with you.' "
All for love
Love is what makes the Wilsons' situation work.
"The one thing everybody involved does is what's best for Kyler," said Robert Wilson. "We're all absolutely focused on that."
Kyler's parents call often, and visit when they can. His mother is doing contract work in Afghanistan, and after time as a truck driver, his father now works in Minnesota.
"I've often wished things had gone differently, for the better, but this is how it ended up," said Kyler's father, Paul Baumgartner, by phone.
There are worse things than letting your parents raise your child, he said, like bouncing a child from place to place without a stable home.
"It made more sense to have him stay with my parents," he said. "I'm forever in debt to my parents for watching Kyler."
His goal is to relocate to Utah.
"As far as having Kyler full time, I would love nothing more than to have that, but I also realize where he's been for the past few years has become his home," he said. "No matter where he lives, I'm going to be there for him ... whatever makes him the most happy."
For now, Kyler says, that's with his grandparents.
"I love being with them," said Kyler. "It's just a one-in-a-million thing to live with them."