We visit in the afternoons, bringing smiles and distraction from the waiting.
The girls run circles, squeal, and turn flips on the floor where they play. They crawl up into the wheelchair and walker and take turns pushing each other around the room.
How long do we have and how many more visits like this? The mingling of ages between these extremes - the very beginning and the very end.
And with a heavy heart I rejoice
Thank you Lord for this moment. For the opportunity to share my grandparents with my children. To hear the same stories that were told to me 20 years ago, to hear them again, and from the same voice.
And will she remember?
Will you teach me how to knit Caws?
Her tiny, white fingers next to the gnarled and spotted ones, full of wisdom from a life full lived.
You take this piece of yarn,…yes, like this, and hold it over…
And she asks all the questions so similar to the ones I also had.
But what did you do, a long long time ago before grocery stores?
For vegetables, we had a garden. For meat, we had chickens.
But what about for milk, I’m saying?
Oh, for milk? Yes, well we had a cow.
Lord, thank you, thank you for this time, for this family, for this intertwining of generations and for all the love unspoken.
And I watch, taking it all in and experiencing them as great-grandparents to little ones. Getting to witness first hand what it must have been like when I was so young, but memories are too faded to remember.
Hey pretty girl! he teases and she squeals and eyes sparkle.
He reaches out from his confined chair to tickle her with the same hands I remember well.
I can close my eyes and can feel those hands, dirty from the weeding, looking over the rash or cut that needed to be cared for. People would tell me of his hands. His miracle-worker hands. The ones that saved them from their cancer, the ones that healed and stitched and played God. But I never knew that man.
To me, he was the one who made the garden grow.
Not many words were shared, but a magnitude of awe and respect.
I would run through fresh rows, trying to remember to stay off of the top part so as to not crush the new life blooming in the soft mounds.
Would you like some coke Dandy?
Well, thank you shug. It’s hot out here today he would say he as leaned back on the tractor, finishing the glass in one gulp.
And handing me back the empty glass, with his deep southern drawl he would offer I thank you mam!
I would take the empty glass back, crossing over the broken earth, filled with a haunting awe for a man that I did not really know.
The same short conversation played over every day.
But now he is softened, and so is she.
As they hang here at the end of life, there is a sweetness there that wasn’t present before, and I am allowed the privilege to bear witness as they delight in their great-grands.
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.