Monday, July 25

BEGUILED BY A 6-YEAR OLD

DEAR READERS,

I had committed to resuming my blogging this past weekend on the heels of my grandson's and son's departure, but as my wife so aptly described it, the two of us were suffering from a major case of grandson withdrawal Saturday evening and all day yesterday and I couldn't bring myself to sit still long enough in front of the keyboard to write and publish a post. There was such an emptiness in me. The house had grown silent again. Life was no longer animated by a spirited youngster whose personality had filled our home.

This was the most continuous time (a 12 days' visit) the two of us have had with our grandson Matthew since he was born and particularly since we moved to the Houston area, and we were thoroughly beguiled. Matthew made the house come alive and filled it with bubbling expectations and big bursts of energy. All the good memories of raising our sons came back to us in the presence of this sweet cherub, who loved us, charmed us, played with us, and made us feel as if we were in our 30s again! There's just something about a "little man" in pajamas coming down the staircase in the morning and giving "Grandpaw" a big hug and a kiss that sets the right tone for the day -- a presence that lifts the spirit like the optimism of a splendid sunrise. Life was so supremely good everytime I felt his arms around me and heard the words, I love you, Grandpaw! If only that could be bottled as an antidote for what ever ails a middle-aged man.

We had such fun together. I was reintroduced to cartoons, French Toast, corn dogs, and the card game Fish. And I learned things about our solar system that I had forgotten and with which I never would have imagined a 6-year old would be conversant. We played our own make believe version of "Navy Seals" in the swimming pool most every day: he was "Commander Matthew" and I was "Lieutenant Grandpaw." We'd float on a rubber raft over to the waterfall and there he'd call in to "Headquarters" to receive our next "mission." We pretended the pool was a languid, slyly dangerous river in a foreign land. Squirt guns were our weapons of choice and we defeated imaginary enemies, large and small, from bumble bees in the poolside planters to shrub-shrouded statuary under the soothing shade of live oaks along our fence line.

Our entertainment in the evenings were DVDs of the classic "Honeymooners" series and my grandson delighted in Art Carney, Jackie Gleason, and most every episode, and howled when Ralph Kramden would become unglued over something Norton did. Oh, that infectious laugh of Matthew's! A child's laugh is a nugget of pure gold and our heart its repository.

My wife and I wanted to make Matthew's trip memorable, so we took a car trip to San Antonio and showed him the Alamo (and told of its history) and the Riverwalk, and took him out to Sea World for a day. There the three of us were thoroughly drenched (saturated with ice cold salt water, from head to toe) by Shamu -- a trained killer whale-- and never did completely dry out despite the searing heat. He was captivated at each and every show by the whales, porpoises, sea lions, walruses, and otters. We had a grand time together and even when the rain began falling in the late afternoon, soaking us anew. Cleverly, we took refuge in an indoor aquarium and watched a convoy of sharks move effortlessly through the water, as clusters of adults and children looked on intently in silent wonder.

Our children and our grandchildren are our immortality and among God's most profound gifts. Our blood courses through their veins and our DNA becomes their DNA and links us with succeeding generations. But the true architecture of their souls are the hopes and dreams we have for them and the deeply felt love we give to them. That little man with the backpack who waved "Goodbye" to "Granny" and "Grandpaw," as he walked through the security gate at the airport, carried with him memories of a childhood visit that truly lit up our lives and forged an irrevocable bond. Our love for him has been enriched beyond measure.

Over and out, Commander Matthew! Grandpaw misses you!