All that is not Given – – Is Lost.
Because she was a child, she had no real thing of value to give to me. All things Grace possessed, I had provided. Anything she might have to give, I would already know. Her clothes, her toys, the crackers she liked to eat and the juice she drank – – all came from me. Grown ups don’t expect gifts from children. Grace had nothing. No money, no means to go to a store to buy something. She couldn’t even wrap a present, if she had one. But she found a way to give to me something.
For this, I believe in the power of small children to change the world. I believe that science will never explain all, that true miracles are abundant and near in our lives and one only needs to pay attention and pause long enough to take them in.
Here is what I wrote to Grace:
Looking through the dining room window of the old house on 18th Street, my breath is fogging the glass as I try to see beyond the branches of the shrubs that grow wild in front of the house. I am thinking of a warm day late in September, when your mom left you and me in charge. You are two years and a few months old and I am thirty five. I asked, “Do you want to go outside to trim those old bushes?” “Yes Daddy,” you answered. So we set out with a rake and an ancient pair of shrub clippers in hand. The clippers were given to me by your Grandpa – – I think in return for the perfect excuse for the day he would be asked to trim the shrubs at his house. Your Grandpa was very wise.
You helped me to clip and rake for about one-minute. The clippers were too heavy, the rake much too long for your little arms to bear. And soon your interest turned to the possibility of climbing and jumping from the steps to the grass. This became so very much more important that you were compelled to begin immediately.
After several covert test jumps, you announced, “Look at me, Joe!” And as I turned in your direction – – you would leap. Sometimes you call me Joe, but you know I’m your Daddy. You always chose the time, and which name to use, and I was always flattered with your attention.
“I could have caught you in a moment,” I thought – – break your fall with quick hands and a kiss on the head. But I kept a short distance. You thought you were so very brave – – and you were, for someone who was almost three. This activity did not tire you in the least, and I glanced away once – – only to discover you sitting and talking and playing with some weeds that were growing in the large wood barrel planter on the top step. What happened next caused me to set down the clippers and come stand nearer so I might listen more carefully. While I was clipping away at the evergreens, I thought you said, “I catching diamonds, Joe”. To be sure I misunderstood, and with my eyes wide, looking around with a measured nonchalance, I asked you in a quiet voice what you had said while I was over by the bushes. “I catching diamonds. . . see . . .”, you repeated, and you opened your tiny cupped hands to reveal an even more tiny soft dandelion seed that you had slipped from the breeze. For several minutes, I asked all I could about the delicate white sphere in your palm. You acknowledged my questions patiently while showing me your hand and encouraging me, “It’s OK- -you can touch it.” I was more than intrigued by how you might have come to understand such a mystery. You mostly told me, regardless of what I asked, that you were catching diamonds. Only upon my last puzzled inquiry, “Where do you think they come from?”, did you answer, – – “Angels”. I gave the clippers away that day to one of the neighbors and started listening to children. Someday, I hope to be as wise as Grandpa.
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