We haven’t been out much lately. It’s been a bit too cold to be bundling up kids and toddlers to run in and out of stores or other places. But last week was warmer—high 20s, low 30s, a real heat wave in this part of the USA. Especially for January. So, one day, we ran to SuperTarget, which gives out free cookies, and to the library.
Normally, when I go to the library with my twins, I go just to pick up the books I have on hold. In and out. I wait to bring the older girls there, to spend time browsing, when we can leave the two two-year-olds at home. But on this particular trip, we lingered just a bit, because we ran into a friend from church and her three daughters.
God’s timing is always wonderful, I think. If I hadn’t gone out that day or I hadn’t run into my friend, I wouldn’t have been blessed with two wonderful encounters with grandpas. Both within five minutes of one another.
My own grandpa died when I was only three years old. I have one memory of him, and I cherish it, along with several photos. I never had the opportunity to meet my other grandpa. Since I didn’t have the opportunity to cultivate my own grandfather-granddaughter relationships, grandpas have always had a very special place in my heart. I am very fond of grandpas. Perhaps my notion of grandfathers is a bit idealistic, like a Hallmark movie. But maybe not, in light of my recent encounters with these two grandpas.
Encounter #1: For anyone who has several children, you’ve probably heard, and are tired of hearing, “Boy, do you have your hands full” spoken to you every time you go out in public. It’s like stating the obvious, but not in a positive way. I’ve also had worse said to me, like “You’re crazy” and “Why?” But every time the “hands full” statement is spoken to me by a complete stranger, I smile and try to respond in the most upbeat way possible. As far as the other two comments, I think I just smiled … speechlessly.
Well, as we were walking out of the library, this grandpa was walking right behind us, smiling, as he watched me and my kids. I looked back at him and returned the smile. And then he said one of the sweetest comments about my family: “What a great collection of little people you have there.” Wow! He completely won my heart! After I thanked him, he waited for me to pack everyone into my van and get them buckled in. Then, he asked if he could help me put my double stroller in the back of my van. I didn’t really need help, but he was just so kind that I said, “Sure.” I showed him that it folded up, and he was most impressed. He helped me lift it into the back. Then, I told him to have a good day, and we parted ways. He never stopped smiling.
Encounter #2: I still had one more child to buckle in and also had to pass books back to the kids to look at on our drive home, when another grandpa pulled up next to me. This time, as I was pulling out, he motioned for me to roll down my window. And he asked me for help. He was afraid he was going to fall, so he needed me to help him turn around and get to flat ground. You see, in the north where it snows a lot, the snow plows don’t always get all the snow and ice off the streets and parking lots. Solid chunks of slippery, salty masses are left. They melt and refreeze over and over again. This grandpa had parked right by a very uneven piece of ground. So, he was rather stuck. I asked him exactly what he needed me to do, and he simply said, “If I could just hold on to you until I can get to the sidewalk.” No problem. I was so honored to be available to him. I helped him turn around and walk away from the uneven terrain. As we were walking arm-in-arm, he held his cane and his library book to return in a Christmas gift bag in his other hand. And he told me that it gets hard when you get old. “And I’m only 94,” he said cheerfully. His brother is 96 and his sister is 89, in case you were wondering =) Once he got to the dry, flat sidewalk, he thanked me, we parted, and I told him to have a wonderful day.
As I drove away, I couldn’t help but think of my own grandpas. The one I barely knew and the one I never knew. And I thanked God for these little encounters that left me grateful on so many levels … and that naturally increased my fondness for grandpas.