Courage at Twilight: The Young Come After

Lila has come to spend the weekend with Mom and Dad and me. Being only two (almost three), she brought her parents along.  I did not mind because I like them, too, in addition to her.  “Come play Legos, Gwumpa Waja,” she sing-songed, and I sat by her little pajamaed body while we pieced together the bricks and sorted marbles by color.  Lila dragged me over to the neighbor’s to push her on the swing with the blue seat.  My sweetest memories of the last year include visiting my three grandchildren in Kentucky, Arizona, and Texas, now in Utah, Idaho, and Illinois.  Their smiles and laughs and cuddles banish fear and distress and fill me with feelings of love and tenderness.  With Lila here, however, at Mom’s and Dad’s house where I live, I find the generations confused, or mixed, in that I am both a grandfather and a child, the “Grandpa” of my children’s babies but still my mother’s “Baby.”  “Are you tired, Baby?” Mom asks when I come home late from work.  She showed me her journal entry from January 26, 1965, when I was seven months old: “Roger is really a big boy.  He crawls all over the floor, coming after me.  He holds onto chairs and things, and stands up.  He also bumps his head plenty.  His favorite foods are applesauce and bananas.  He has a tooth now.”  Dad delights to tell visitors how enthusiastically I emptied the cabinets of their pots and pans and lids, that no sooner had he put them away, then I would take them out again.  And now here is Lila asking her grandpa to plant a garden with her, and to get the tiny shovels.  We dig holes behind the shrubs, and plant rocks.  And she jabbers in two languages, English and Spanish, as we dig and look for rocks to plant, and cover them up “for squirrels to find,” and she runs to drop the blue and red beanbags in the cornhole goal.  Dad is 79 years older than Lila, and pointed out that when I am his age, Lila will be 30 years old.  And I want her to stay two forever.

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