The Nearest Thing To Heaven Is A Child
I remember the first time my grandson fell asleep on my chest. He was probably a month old. I listened to his breathing, felt the beat of his heart. A middle-aged man and a baby. A bond.
The baby became a toddler and we played with blocks and we read books. As he learned to talk he learned to tease: “I’m not your buddy, papa.” One night when he didn’t feel well he crawled up on my lap, draped himself across my chest and slept. Maybe we were pals after all.
Kick ball (which included lots of running) came next. We played baseball. We rode bikes. The playground equipment got a weekly workout. And still we read books together on quiet mornings. The summer of his fifth birthday we discovered the swimming pool and the golf course.
That same summer he confessed “he was a little nervous about school starting” and I told him I always get nervous every August too. He pondered my words as we polished off the hot dogs and chips.
A back pack and gym shoes; the school year began…
It’s May as I write this. Kindergarten has brought a newfound sense of independence and there’s a trip to the zoo next week. I learned that Ms. T has tall teeth and Mr. N has a noisy nose. I know who the star of the week is and all about fourth grade buddies and he reads to me from The Cat in the Hat. When he walks by my room on the way to the ‘big gym’, we flash the peace sign at each other.
Summer is beckoning: T-ball, throwing rocks in the creek, grilling our famous hot dogs, and picking strawberries. But the old emotions are still there and if I am lucky perhaps on a rainy July afternoon we can read a book and fall asleep, our hearts beating the cadence of a love song that is genuine.
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