I was doing yard work yesterday. Nothing special about that, except the night before, I was sitting at the hospital awaiting the arrival of a special little girl. You see, this child is my granddaughter. I am a grandpa now.
Everywhere I looked, scenes played out, like holograms superimposed over the here and now. Over there, by the fence, there was an old man in coveralls and a plaid shirt, leading a small child by the hand as they walked around the farm. He spoke quietly to the little one about everyday things, like feeding the cows and watering the pasture. The child asked him things. Why is the sky blue? Where does sunlight come from? Did you take daddy for walks when he was little like me?
Over here, that same old man sat in a rocking chair, that small child sitting on his knee. Forever imprinted in that little boy's memory were the sights and the sounds and smells of the old farm house where they sat: the hard wood floors that chilled little feet in the winter time; the cows lowing in the early evening as they waited impatiently for their meal; the smells of wood smoke and old wood and air dried sheets.
That old man in my visions isn't so old. He's probably no older than I am now. That child, he's young, barely walking, his fine hair still smelling of baby shampoo, his pudgy legs getting longer and firmer and more sure every day. The man answers his grandson's questions patiently, and when he holds him, the little one feels safe and protected. In grandpa's arms, yesterday and tomorrow don't matter. Civilizations may rise and fall, stars ignite and disappear, the tides crash and recede, music plays and fades away, people live and die. The universe chugs along, doing what it does, but here in this refuge, this cocoon that is grandpa's hug, there is warmth and peace and unconditional love.
Now, I am the grandpa. I am the refuge. I am the one who answers the questions. I am the port in the storm, the giver of hugs, the purveyor of love and warmth and acceptance. These are monumental responsibilities. Am I up to the task? Grandpa was 46 when I was born, younger than I am now. Was he ready?
I finished the yard and sat on a lawn chair drinking iced tea and smelling the fresh cut grass. Those scenes I saw were grandpa and me, ghosts of the past, but they were visions of the future, too. They were of me and little Melani, closing a circle and beginning a new one.
I am grandpa now.
Am I ready?