I am 66 years old and I believe in magic. Who would have thought? After a career running organizations of up to a thousand employees, managing finances and budgets, negotiating labor contracts, and making strategic plans it’s hard to fathom that there’s magic in the world. The bottom line and measurable objectives can slap the idea of magic right out of your mind. But then, that weekend in October happened that changed my mind.
By magic, I don’t mean sleight of hand or pulling rabbits out of a hat. What I am talking about is more substantial than tricks and illusions. When real life outstrips our imagination and when reality surpasses dreams and fantasies it’s magic. These are enchanted times when everything is better than we imagined.
The weekend in question involved my two grandchildren – Claire and Luke. Four years ago my daughter unexpectedly died giving birth to Luke, when Claire was four years old. It was the most difficult time for me and everyone else in the family. I made a silent pledge to my daughter that I would be an active grandpa to those kids as if my daughter were still alive. My son-in-law, Bill, and his new wife, Heather, have been most gracious in helping me honor that pledge by welcoming me to visit them whenever I can.
I always dreamed of having the two kids visit me at my home in Connecticut. So, when Luke was four and old enough to be away from home, I asked Bill if they could come for a long weekend on the “farm”. While being a ‘city-slicker’ raised in Chicago, I live on a farm owned by a wonderful family. My small home, once a farm utility garage, has been transformed into a unique place with character and energy.
I thought we could walk the land, see wildlife, and enjoy nature together. So during the first weekend in October, I flew to Florida got the kids and flew back home. Our flight was delayed and we got to the farm very late after midnight and the kids and I were exhausted. In bed that night, I wondered if the kids were going to be up to the visit or if Luke would get so tired that he would miss his Dad and want to go home.
The next day, the magic started. The fall colors, warm breeze and the crisp blue sky, created a storybook aura for day. Living in the north my whole life I took the gold, red, and amber trees for granted. But to Claire and Luke they were like pictures from a fairy tale. Luke and Claire couldn’t believe their eyes.
We picked apples at the orchard, went on a hayride pulled by huge Clydesdale horses, picked and carved pumpkins. We walked the farm, played wiffle ball, blew balloons, and sat on the farm machinery. Claire and Luke loved helping Peter, my neighbor, clear the garden, carrying big sunflowers buds and eating carrots right out of the ground like “real farmers”. We put in long days “doing” things.
While the “doings” were fun and memorable, the magic was in our “being” when we held hands in the car and sang “What a Wonderful World”. The connection between my grandkids and me was magical. We celebrated the fact that we belonged together; connected through history, blood, and love. Science cannot explain the bonds people build together, but children can feel the connection because their innocence dissolves the fears and concerns adults carry.
The enchantment we felt in being together and fulfilling a first-time dream of a visit to grandpa at the farm was truly magic – “wonder-ful”, joyful, and inexplicable. No metric can measure that weekend or the feelings Claire, Luke and I had.
Do I believe in magic – you, bet. Children are open to believing in dreams and so am I. They are the foundation for the profound magic of life and belonging.