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All is Well

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“He’s here!  All is well.”  I read that text message and knew all I needed to know.  Jesse, my grandson, my Grand, had been born and he and Daughter were both fine.

It didn’t matter that it was almost bedtime; I left my house and drove to the hospital.  At the nurses’ station, I asked for directions to Daughter’s room.  The nurse smiled and said, “Grandmother?”  I nodded.  “Just follow the loud crying.  He doesn’t like his first bath.”

My, how times have changed! Gone are the days when I birthed babies and no one was allowed in the birthing room.  I walked right into the huge labor and delivery room. Daughter sat on a hospital bed, and I hugged her in the biggest bear hug possible.  Son-in-law stood right beside the nurse while she gently patted baby Jesse’s legs with a small, soft cloth.  Wearing only a diaper, Jesse lay on his back in a hospital infant bed that looked like clear plastic tub.  The nurse said, “All finished.  Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?”  Son-in-law leaned over Jesse and laid one hand on his tummy, the other held his son’s tight fist.  The picture I took will be the first one in Jesse’s photo album.  A father and son talk when son was one hour old.

While Daughter and Son-in-law ate sandwiches, I sat beside Jesse.  Still wearing only a diaper, he lay under a warming lamp.  He seemed completely relaxed lying on his back, his arms spread straight from his shoulders, his legs straight, his little lips smacking, his eyes open.  I held his fist and when he spread his fingers open, I slipped my finger into his hand.  He closed his hand, grasping my finger.

So many strong emotions flooded through me.  Love.  Thankful.  Relief.  Happy.  Joyful.  Ecstatic.  On Cloud 9.  Grateful.  Blessed.  Emotions that jumped straight from my heart to my eyes.  Tears streamed down my cheeks.  I could’ve cried big loud sobs.  Cries of joy.  But it wasn’t the time or place.  I took a few deep breaths, prayed silently, and wiped my wet face with the back of my hand.  Little Jesse’s dark eyes were just inches from mine. I concentrated to imprint this moment in my mind.

As I’ve thought about the day Jesse was born, I remember that morning.  Daughter was folding clothes and watching her children run under, around, and through fountains spraying from a water sprinkler.  “You know,” Daughter said, “it feels good to have a day like this.  We haven’t had a day to just do nothing and stay home and play in a long time.”   Spoken like a mother of four and carrying a baby due any time.

At lunchtime, I told Husband, “This may be the day that Jesse is born.  At his house, there is a huge tree on the ground that last night’s windstorm blew down and the washing machine quit working this morning, but everyone is calm and happy.  Seems like a perfect day for a new baby.”

A new baby.  Almost two weeks old now.  And all is well.  I’ve cried those big tears of joy – more than once.

 

Who Gives This Bride?

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 2.53.52 PMWhen my friend Kae Fleming said that Santa would escort her son’s bride down the aisle, I knew there was a good story.

 

It seems that for years, Santa had surprised the Fleming family while they ate Christmas Eve dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  Unknown to Kae’s son Drake, Santa was their family friend, Bobby, who owned the local dry cleaning business.  Like other children, Drake noticed Santa’s red suit of hanging in the dry cleaners and accepted Bobby’s explanation that Santa had to get his clothes cleaned, just like everyone else.  Every Christmas Eve, Santa held Drake on his lap and gave him a small gift.

 

Bobby lived on a big farm close to the Duck River where he invited friends to play, fish, swim, and ride 4-wheelers.  Among Bobby’s guests were Drake’s family and Bobby’s girlfriend and her two young daughters.  It never occurred to Drake or the other children that Bobby was Santa; he was a friend who cleaned their clothes and had a great place to play.

 

Fast forward to Drake’s high school years.  For four years in homeroom class, his assigned seat was beside Kayla Floyd, Bobby’s girlfriend’s daughter.  By the fall of their sophomore years, Drake and Kayla’s friendship morphed into a romance.  A romance that blossomed and grew.  They played team sports: football for him, softball for her.  They went to proms, hung out with friends, courted like high school sweethearts do.

 

And then they graduated.  Drake accepted an appointment to West Point in New York, and Kayla chose to enroll in Tennessee Tech and play on the softball team.  Separated by 850 miles, Drake and Kayla continued their courtship with late night phone calls, daily texts and emails, and sporadic visits during their college years. They stayed committed to each other and to completing their educations.

 

One summer night last year, Drake’s family hosted a picnic gathering for family and friends.  Drake asked everyone to bow their heads for grace and right in the middle of the prayer, he said, “Y’all can raise your heads now, in case you haven’t figured out why you’re here.”  And then he dropped to one knee and proposed to Kayla.  The picnic turned into an engagement party.

 

As the wedding plans were made, Kayla chose Bobby – the man who was Santa and had invited Drake’s and Kayla’s families to play at his farm – to walk her down the aisle.  Although Bobby and Kayla’s mom’s relationship ended years earlier, a special bond between Bobby and Kayla stuck.  Bobby mentored and encouraged her as an athlete, a student, and a young lady.

 

Now Drake and Kayla have graduated from college and will wed on June 14 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Columbia Tennessee.   Drake’s mother said, “Bobby will walk Kayla down the aisle to give her away to Drake!  He’ll wear a tuxedo, but probably should’ve considered a Santa suit!”

 

Surely, Bobby will wear his Santa suit for the reception.  And I hope they stage a photo of Drake sitting on Santa’s knee and Kayla, in her beautiful white wedding dress, holding Santa’s hand.

Imagine the questions that Drake and Kayla will be asked later.  Why did Santa come to your wedding?  Is that really Santa?

Yes, for this bride and groom, Bobby is really Santa.

 

A Tribute to Grandma

 

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She was almost 90 years old and had spent the past eight years in a nursing home.  The last three practically confined to a bed. She left her room only to be taken, in a wheel chair, down the hallway to the bathing room where she was showered while she remained seated.  Her three daughters visited daily – taking turns on a schedule so that one of them was with her every day, usually during lunchtime and they helped her hold her spoon.   And I, her granddaughter, visited once a week – no certain day, most often late afternoons.

Grandma Gladys communicated very little.   Her greeting was a mumbled, “How are you?”  She answered questions with a simple yes or no – sometimes by nodding or shaking her head.  She rarely initiated conversation.  I’d tell her what I’d been doing and about my children or funny things that the students in my sixth grade class did or what I planned to cook for supper.  Sometimes she responded, sometimes not.

I asked Grandma what she ate for lunch, and I couldn’t understand her answer.  “Chicken?” I said.  She pulled her eyebrows down and shook her head.  “Meatloaf?”  “Macaroni and cheese?”  We played this question game until I gave up or named something that she’d eaten.  When I asked who visited her that day, I understood her answer because I knew my Mom’s and my aunts’ visiting schedules.

Grandma Gladys was always pleasant. Agreeable. Content. Appreciative.  Never angry.  Before I left her small world within the four walls of her room, I leaned over to kiss her forehead, told her bye and that I loved her.  She responded, “Thank you for coming.”  The clearest words she said.  Or maybe the ones I understood most easily because ever since I was young and visited her and Papa in their home, she always said those same words when I told her bye.

She didn’t watch television or read.  A large window close to Grandma’s bed brought the natural world into her room.  She watched the leaves on the small maple tree change with the seasons.  And she watched the sky.  White clouds, blue sky, storm clouds, gray sky.    If I forgot to give a brief weather report, the temperature and predicted precipitation, she asked about it.  “Hot?” she’d say on an August day.  “Rain?” she’d ask.  She’d been the daughter and wife of farmers.  The weather had determined their day’s work and year’s income.

Mom visited Grandma one cold, winter day.  The sky was gray and the wind blew.  Light, feathery snow swirled.  Mother fed Grandma her lunch and spent most of the afternoon knitting as she sat in a chair beside Grandma’s bed.  Grandma lay looking outside.  When the time came for Mom to leave, she gathered dirty clothes from Grandma’s closet and picked up her own knitting bag, purse, and coat.  She leaned over Grandma’s bed to tell her bye and Grandma said, “Put your coat on.  It’s cold outside.”

Neither age nor rheumatoid arthritis nor mental illness nor the confines of a nursing home robbed Grandma of her mothering instincts.  She continued to take care of her daughter.

 

Thanksgiving – Then and Now

iz347022I stood at the corner of Mom’s dining room table.  Mom and Dad, my two aunts and uncles, and my grandparents sat in ladder back chairs around that drop leaf cherry table.  We children – my brother, my two boy cousins, and I – set our plates on the table corners and as the food was passed we spooned it on our plates.  And we ate at the linen covered card table just an arm’s length from the big table.  Thanksgiving, when I was a kid.

Mother and her two sisters took turns hosting holiday meals and they did it with style.  Best china and crystal and silver.  A starched white tablecloth and matching napkins.  A fall centerpiece.  And these three ladies were good cooks.

The menu rarely changed.  Turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, green beans, creamed corn, lima beans, sweet potato casserole, jellied cranberry sauce, relish tray, rolls, pumpkin pie, chocolate pie, sweet tea.  All homemade, from scratch, except for the bake and serve dinner rolls.  Mom, as the hostess, cooked the turkey and dressing, and all three sisters stirred and tasted and seasoned the gravy to get it just right.  Aunt Doris made pies.  Aunt Nell made the relish tray and lima beans.  The vegetables – home grown beans and corn – taste the same no matter who cooked them.  Sweet potatoes topped with melted marshmallows.

After we ate, the women gathered in the kitchen for the clean-up ritual.  Out came plastic containers to divvy up the leftovers.  Enough for each family’s meals over the weekend.  Mom’s and my aunts’ talking and laughing and sharing secrets entertained me, and I willingly dried the dishes just to be close to them.  The clean up was finished when I crawled under the table to move its legs so that both leaves could fall, and it was moved back against the wall.

When my generation married and had homes and children, Mom and my aunts passed on the honor of hosting Thanksgiving.  We’ve sat at many different tables as my family grew.  And our menu expanded.  Cousin Carolyn’s whipped potatoes and green congeal salad.  Cousin Janie’s cherry salad.  Sister-in-law Brenda’s sweet potato casserole with a crunchy topping.   My cranberry salad.

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, Husband and I will sit at that same cherry dining room table at Brenda’s home.  Sit with her, my two cousins and their wives, and all our children and grandchildren who can be there.  We’ll sit in those same chairs where my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and my brother once sat.  In prayer, we’ll remember them—those who are no longer with us.

We’ll fill Brenda’s best china plates with the same foods that have graced that table many Thanksgivings, and we’ll probably repeat some of the same stories that have been told since I was a kid.  After we eat, we women will gather in the kitchen with take-home containers in hand.  We’ll clean up the kitchen, and then one of the children will crawl under the drop leaf table to move its legs so it can be moved against the wall.

I’m thankful that Mom and my aunts created Thanksgiving traditions.  And it makes me happy to celebrate with family around the same table where I once stood and filled my plate.  Back when I was too young to sit at the big table.

 

Life Goes Around

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            Many years ago, Husband and I lived the life that Son and my favorite Daughter-in-law are living now.  I’d forgotten some things about life with a two-year old toddler and a newborn, but it all came back to me during a weeklong visit with Son and his family.

When a toddler goes to bed at 7:00 p.m., he gets up at 5:30 a.m.  When he goes to bed at 8:00, he gets up at 5:30.

Newborn diapers are the size of a standard letter envelope.

Bananas taste better when you hold the whole banana.  Why did I ever think my toddler Grand would like a banana cut into slices?

Newborns relax and sleep when they are swaddled tightly in a blanket, and swaddling takes practice.  My three-week old Grand squirmed enough to free his arms when I wrapped him, but he stayed tightly cocooned when his mother swaddled him.

Newborns spit up within thirty minutes after being dressed in a clean outfit.

It’s fun to see the big green garage truck stop in front of your house.  A city worker dumps the contents of your fifty-gallon trashcan into the back of the truck and then the trash is all gone.

Don’t say ‘outside’ unless you plan to go outside.  And don’t say ‘take a walk,’ unless you are ready to go outside right that minute and take your toddler with you.

A walk around the block is an adventure.  Yellow flowers, smooth rocks, and Linden tree leaves are treasures.

Choose a book that you truly like to read aloud.  After I read the last page of Dr. Seuss’s There’s a Wocket in My Pocket, my toddler Grand immediately said, “Agen!”  By the fourth reading, I wished I’d chosen a different book.

When you take a newborn to the grocery store, other shoppers who are close by walk slowly and speak softly.

A towel draped over a kitchen table chair is a perfect hiding place, and a toddler is quiet when he hides.

Peek-a-boo is a laugh out loud game.  I covered my face with my hands and said, “Where’s Dan?”  My toddler Grand dumped the wooden blocks out of a plastic tub and covered his head.  He lifted the tub and giggled when I simply said, “Peek-a-boo!”

Newborns cry when they are hungry or have a dirty diaper or need to burp.  And sometimes a newborn cries and only he knows why.

A toddler can be one second away from a melt down, especially when he is tired or hungry.

It’s makes you happy when you serve a second helping of your home-cooked spaghetti to a toddler, and he pumps his fists and says “Oh, yeah!”

A wooden train set can entertain a toddler for at least twenty minutes, several times a day.  Eight train cars can be lined up in many different ways.

When a newborn sleeps in your arms, you should sit perfectly still and savor every moment.

It’s okay to go to bed before dark.  The toddler in his room.  The grandmother in hers.

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Mother’s Day Picnic

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“Oh, make it easy,” I told my family.  “You know I like Kentucky Fried and a picnic.”  My family, like most families, wanted to get me out of the kitchen on Mother’s Day.

“Are you sure you don’t want to go out to eat somewhere?”  Husband asked.  I assured him that a picnic with just him and our children was my choice.  “So where do you want to go?”

“Surprise me!”  I said.

Our children, ages 9 and 11, teased me later that Saturday afternoon.  “You won’t believe where we’re having a picnic.  Guess.  Like 20 questions.”  Have we ever picnicked there?  No.  Have we even been there?  Not really.  Is this a place you think I want to go?  Yes!  Questions and answers all evening long.

Sunday morning, on the way to church, Daughter said, “Guess some more, Mom.  You’ll never figure it out.”  Will we have to walk a long way?  No.  Should I wear my hiking boots?  Husband and Son raised their eyebrows and glanced toward each other.  Yes.  Finally, I refused to ask another question.  It was time for clues.  A place I really liked.  I’d have to climb.  There wasn’t a picnic table.  There were lots of trees.  There weren’t any bathrooms.  We wouldn’t have to drive far.

On the way home from church, we picked up fried chicken – crispy, my favorite – and I got to choose the side dishes.  At home, we changed from church clothes into shorts and tee shirts, and I put on my hiking boots.  We gathered drinks, a roll of paper towels, a couple of folding chairs, and a quilt.  “On the way,” Husband said, “I need to stop at the house to check on something.”  ‘The house’ was the one we were building.  The first level was framed, and the carpenters had just started on the second level.

Husband opened the back of our van and grabbed something.  “I’ll be right back.  You don’t need to get out,” he told me.  Both our children followed him.  A few minutes later, Husband motioned for me.  “Come here.  I want to show you something.  The kids are upstairs where their rooms will be.”

I questioned if climbing the ladder to the second level was safe.  Had he let the kids climb up?  I clutched each rung as I carefully placed my big boots on the narrow ladder steps.  The blue sky, with a few puffy cumulus clouds, opened wide.  “Is there a floor up there?”  I asked.  Husband encouraged me to keep going.  Just as my head reached sight of the second level, my son and daughter jumped up from the quilt they had been lying on.  They stood tall; arms stretched high above their heads.  “Happy Mother’s Day!”  they shouted.

It was the perfect place for a picnic.  A plywood subfloor, with no walls or roof.  The only time I’ve ever dined among a maple tree’s high branches and looked down on the white blossoms of dogwood tree.  Our own private dining room, and I didn’t cook.

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A Love Story

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They were 19 and in love and wanted to marry.  Doris planned to tell her dad while she cut his hair, but the scissors slipped and nipped his ear.  It bled.  She couldn’t say, “Hugh and I are getting married!” while her father wiped blood off his neck.

The year was 1943.  A time when couples were often married by an elected official.  A few days later, Doris told her father and mother about her wedding plans.  They gave their blessings, and her sister made her a new dress.

Doris and Hugh had known each other all their lives and started dating during their last year of high school.  She worked in a local restaurant and Hugh stopped by every day to see her.  After high school graduation, she rode the bus to Nashville with a cousin to be trained for a factory job.  A job left vacant by men who were fighting a war.  After three days of training, Doris said, “I’m going home.  I want to be where Hugh is.”

They dated for fifteen months and on March 13, 1943, Doris and Hugh travelled from their homes in Byrdstown, Tennessee, to Rossville, Georgia where Judge A. L. Ellis performed their wedding ceremony in his office.  Doris and Hugh lived with his parents for six weeks – long enough for him to learn that he was denied enlistment in the Armed Forces because he had a perforated eardrum.

Hugh found work in Akron, Ohio, at the Goodyear Rubber Plant and lived with an uncle until he found housing for himself and his bride.  As she rode the bus from Tennessee to Ohio she imagined their new home.  A white cottage with a white picket fence.   Hugh took her, by city bus, to their first home – a one bedroom, small upstairs apartment.  It didn’t matter.  Doris was happy to keep house and cook for her husband.

For the next seventy years, Aunt Doris kept house and cooked for Uncle Hugh.  They lived in Ohio for sixteen years and then bought a farm back home, in Tennessee, where they moved with their only child, a son, fifteen years old.  Hugh became a dairy farmer, and she worked in retail businesses.  And she was well known for her chocolate pies and dried apple fried pies.

Along the way, family and friends and laughter filled their home.  They hosted hamburger cookouts, card parties, Christmas dinners, spaghetti suppers, church meetings.  Their family grew.  Two grandsons, three great-grandchildren.  All loved to visit their Pa and Granny’s house – a home filled with acceptance and love and hugs.

When they reached retirement age, life barely slowed down.  He hit the golf course and neither missed a trip.  Together they followed their favorite sports teams and politicians.  And they kissed good-bye when either left the house – even for a few hours.

Last month, Aunt Doris and Uncle Hugh were honored at a anniversary reception.  Two weeks later, Uncle Hugh slid onto the floor and his heart stopped.  Two weeks after that, Aunt Doris suffered a major stroke and passed away.  Both at home.  Both living their normal daily lives just hours before.

One of their grandsons wrote the following:  If you are going to write the Great American Love Story from beginning to end, this is how it ends.  A celebration of their 70th wedding anniversary with most of their dear friends, Pa heads out to get the permanent house ready, and then Granny comes home.

They were 89 and in love.

 

 

How to Stay Married for 50 Years

imagesGo into marriage with the thought, ‘This is forever.’  Take each day one day at a time and never go to sleep mad.  The days you don’t like each other stop and remember why you fell in love.  Did you read these words of advice from married couples in this newspaper’s supplement on Valentine’s Day?  Golden Anniversary – a celebration of local couples who have been married 50+ years.  Eighty- three couples married between 50 and 75 years and not a single one stated, “Our life together has been blissful.  We never had problems  – only happiness and each day filled with loving actions and thoughts.”  No, these couples shared real life stories.

A couple married 67 years stated, “We were too stubborn to give up.”  One couple compared marriage to a birthday cake.  “To enjoy it you need some cake (everyday living) and a little frosting (romance and passion.)  Too much cake without frosting is boring.  Too much frosting by itself will make you sick.  Find your perfect balance.”

I studied the couples’ stories and words of advice to create a Top Ten List  – How to Stay Married for 50 Years.

10. Threaten that whomever leaves has to take the kids.

9.  Don’t get mad at the same time.

8. Try hard to get along with both sides of the family.

7. Treat your man like a king and treat your woman like a queen.

6. Always keep God in your life.  Pray for your mate.

5. Be willing to put your wants (and sometimes needs) second.  Treat your mate as your best friend.  Be kind and considerate to each other.

4. Play childishly with each other frequently.  Have fun.

3. Learn to say you’re sorry.  You always need to give and take and forgive and forget.  Talk to each other and don’t just hear – really, really listen.

2. Hold hands, love each other always, kiss in the morning and before bedtime.  Tell each other often, “I love you.”

1. When you marry and say ‘till death do us part, mean it and stick with it.

I’m keeping this list and the newspaper supplement handy, in the top drawer of my bedside table.  I need be reminded that other married couples haven’t always slept on a bed of roses with no thorns.  And it makes me smile to read about the couple who’ve been married 62 years and said, “Love grows with the passing of years until one day you wake up and realize you don’t want to be with anyone else except your sweetheart of many years.”

In six short years, Husband and I will celebrate our 50th anniversary.  Maybe we’ll be featured in the 2019 Golden Anniversary Celebration and give advice.  But until then, we’re like the couple married 65 years who stated, “We’re not a perfect couple, but we never quit trying.”

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Hugs for Heatlh

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“A pick-up hug!” my Grand says.  Lou, almost six years old, stands in front of her Pop, looks up, and raises her arms.  Pop lifts her high above his head.  Her arms come down to encircle his neck and she wraps her legs around his waist.  What a hug!

Ruth, almost four years old, is famous for her good-bye hugs.  As I walk toward her family’s back door, her mother calls,  “Ruth, Gran is leaving.”  My Grand comes running.  Her arms open wide.  Eyes wider and an open-mouth smile.  If I don’t get down to her level immediately, she wraps both arms around my legs and plants a kiss right on my knee.  Because I prefer neck hugs, I move fast to sit or lean over.  Her arms hold my neck like a vise and she lays her head on my shoulder.  “Um, Um!”  she says and kisses my cheek.  Then she looks me eye to eye.  “Bye, Gran!”  Her hug carries me through the day.

Our Grands don’t know that they are making Pop and me healthier, both physically and mentally.  It’s been proven.  A University of North Carolina study showed that hugs increase the levels of the hormone oxytocin and reduce blood pressure.  This hormone triggers a caring and bonding response in both men and women, and a daily dose of oxytocin from hugging can help protect us from heart disease.  Hugs also lower cortisol, the stress hormone responsible for high blood pressure.  And it’s also been proven that the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout our entire body, increases when we hug so we feel healthy and full of energy.

A proper hug, where the hearts are pressing together, relaxes muscles and releases tension.  Hugs balance out the nervous system.  Build trust and help foster honest and open communication.  Teach us to give and receive.  Hugging boosts self-esteem.

Much has been written and said about hugs.  When you give a hug, you get a hug.  A hug makes you feel loved and special.  A hug takes a few seconds – lasts for hours.  A hug is free and the supply is endless.  Dr. Dorothy M. Neddermeyer even liken hugs to food:  organic, naturally sweet, no pesticides, non-fattening, no carbohydrates, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients and 100 % wholesome.  How many hugs a day to we need?  Virginia Satir, a family therapist said, “We need four hugs a day for survival.  We need eight hugs a day for maintenance.  We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”

The only requirement to give a hug is a willing spirit.  Lou and Ruth’s little 21-month-old sister Elaine watches as Ruth hugs me.  “Gan, ugh!”  Elaine says.  I lift her into my arms for a pick-up hug.  Her hands grab my shoulders.  She swipes her face across my cheek and wiggles.  She’ll get it.  It just takes practice.  And I’m happy to participate in her training.

What Could Be Better?

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I’ve often said there’s nothing better than playing with my Grands.  And I bet most grandparents would agree that time alone with a grandchild is as good as life gets.  But this week, I ate those words and they were delicious.

My youngest little Grand is 19 months old.  Full of energy and a happy, busy little boy.  He loves to play with balls.  Any kind or shape or size.  So last week when I visited him and his parents, my Grand and I played ball.  We rolled a small rubber basketball across the carpeted floor.  “Show Gran how you can shoot a basket,” his mother said.  With more encouragement, he threw the ball through the goal that’s at his stretch-high-as-he-can fingertip level.  “Good job!”  I clapped and cheered.  My Grand and I tossed the balls toward each other and sometimes we caught them.  But we rarely shot baskets.

For three days while my Grand’s mother ran errands and did household chores, he and I played.  We pushed red and yellow and green plastic balls through the openings of a drum that had perfect round circles in matching colors.  We hid those plastic balls under stacking cups and we built a tower, six cups tall, and then knocked it down.  There’s something funny about watching plastic cups and balls bounce across the floor.

We played farm with a Fisher Price barn and silo and animals.  We made animals sounds – baa, moo, neigh.  We pushed and pulled every lever to hear recorded barnyard noises.  My Grand hid all the animals in the silo and squealed when I found them.  We lined up toy cars and tractors on a table, and he rolled them along my outstretched leg.  And we laughed – out loud – when a car wrecked.

And I read to him.  He piled books from his book basket onto the seat of the wing back chair where I sat.  Little Blue Leads the Way.  From Head to ToeWhere is Baby’s Belly Button?  My Grand turned his back toward me so I could lift him onto my lap.  He flipped pages and jabbered; I read and hugged.  Yes, as good as life gets.

Then my Grand’s daddy came home from an out-of-town business trip.  As soon as he heard the garage door go up, he ran to the back door and waited for Daddy to walk into the house.  Daddy lifted my Grand high into the air and gave him a two-arm hug before setting him on the floor.  My Grand ran to the playroom, found the small basketball, clutched it tightly, and stood in front of the basketball goal.  When Daddy walked into the room, my Grand threw the ball, hitting nothing but net.  “Way to go!”  Daddy said as he sat on the floor by the goal.  “Gen!”  my Grand shouted.  And he shot the ball through the goal again and again and again.  And Daddy gave him a high-five him after every shot.

I watched.  A lump in my throat.  Wet eyes.  Full heart.  What’s better that playing with my Grand?  Watching my son play with his son.