Grandpa's day

It was a busy summer day. After breakfast we picked produce from the garden. There were blackberries and strawberries and grandpa’s favorite huckleberries. There were tomatoes and a few vegetables. Some of the berries got put into a dish for supper. Some went directly into the mouths of the pickers. The grandkids played in the camper with grandma while their father and I made a few repairs in a bathroom. There was dress-up, with some lovely hats and wild costumes, There were cars and trucks to play and a tea party with tiny dishes. There were stories and lots of laughter. Then we loaded up in the car for a walk across a park and onto a big sandbar in the river. The river carries a lot of rock dust from the glaciers in the mountains and the sand is very fine and just right for castles and digging trenches to fill with water. Pretty soon the kids were covered in sand and mud and even tough they would rinse off in the shallow water at the edge of the river there was enough sand brought home with them at lunchtime that mudroom was a literal description of the utility room at the entrance of the house. We swept up the sand and fed the kids. Grandpa was dragging just a bit and very ready for a short nap before afternoon activities. Supper was hot dogs on the grill with carrot sticks and fresh fruit from the garden. In addition to the berries, they have lots of peaches this year. After supper there was time for a short walk and then it was getting dark. There were baths and stories and tired kids went to sleep quickly in the camper with grandma and grandpa.

The amazing thing about all of this is that when we aren’t missing the parents of these three grandchildren find time to keep house, have jobs and homeschool during the pandemic. I don’t know how they do it. When we are visiting it seems like it takes all four adults just to keep track of three kids. The garden is high and there are sunflowers twice as tall as an adult. The kids dart in and out. They have taken some child-sized furniture to the wood shed, where they play games. They love to run across the field adjacent to the garden. The hay has been cut and baled and the grass is once again short enough to get some speed when they are running and playing their games. Grandpa got in his 10,000 steps just following children around, but he doesn’t know how the parents keep up.

Every evening the family has a ritual of everyone saying what they are thankful for. I’m always thankful for healthy and delightful grandchildren, and for the bounty of the garden and the love of parents. But there are individual moments that stand out each day.

Walking hand in hand with a granddaughter who says to me, “I really, really, REALLY, like people who have campers . . . and boats!” trying to keep up with a grandson running across the field to show me a new dock that has been installed on the lakeshore, watching the little one half buried in mud at the riverside, knowing that she is going to need to be carried part of the way back to the car, mud and all, even dumping sand out of boots and shoes after an adventure - every day is filled with moment after moment of joy and learning and growing.

I realize that I don’t have the energy I once did, but I do pretty good at keeping up.

And this morning is Sunday. I know that three grandchildren are expecting pancakes for breakfast and I’ve got enough huckleberries in the refrigerator to make them special. And Sunday is family day for this gang. It is the only day of the week when one of their parents doesn’t have to go off to work. I don’t know what the adventure will be, but there will be time for a drive or a walk or a visit to someplace new. There will be family meals and time for kids to play. We’ll catch church online, but unlike the days when church activities took all of Sunday for us, it will be part of a day with a lot of other activities. Online church doesn’t fill all of our spiritual needs, but it provides a bit of connection with our new faith family.

Life is good. Life is really good.

And, for us, it feels like the beginning of a new chapter. This particular visit will be short - just a week - but as our granddaughter told us at supper last night, “You come and then you go back and then you come again and then you’ll go back again and then you’ll come!” We know we have more work to do at home and we’ll probably make a couple more trips before we are fully moved, but this trip feels different than previous trips. We will be renting a place to store the canoes, kayaks and tools that we brought. Another trip will be with a big truck with most of our furniture and other belongings. Even though we haven’t yet rented an apartment, we have a sense that we are beginning to move our household.

Importantly for us, every trip is filled with time with grandchildren who constantly remind us of why this is a good move for us. Being with them at this stage of their lives is energizing and delightful. It is a grand luxury for us to have time to watch them grow and be a part of their lives.

Yesterday, before breakfast we were greeted with a great big six-year-old grin missing two front teeth. She had already lost two bottom teeth and now there is a gap in her smile that was bigger than the day before. We also saw the bounty of four dollar coins. One for each of the teeth that had been lost. We learned from her brother that the tooth fairy makes visits to the camper as well as their home, but it is a good thing that their dad is prepared for his role as assistant to the fairy. Grandpa doesn’t always have the right coins on hand. Then again there is still a younger grandchild coming along. By the time she starts to lose her teeth perhaps grandpa will be better prepared.

There is lots for grandpa to learn for this new part of his life.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!