Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Magic of A Touch

"To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms, but absolutely terrified of the word "Boo." (Robert Brault)

What do I know about being a "Grandpa"?  A "PeePaw"? "Boppa"? "Nonno"? "G-Daddy"?  "Wompa"?

About as much as I know about being...
  • A plumber
  • A golfer
  • A white water guide
  • A skydiving instructor
Never really had an interest in being any of those.  Never thought I had an interest in being a grandpa either (though I did have the grumpy gruffness down pretty good already!).

"Never wanted to be a dad, don't see why I'd want to be a granddad", I grumbled grinchily.  "Besides, little kids are noisy and a mess!  That Jerry Seinfeld guy knew what he was talking about!"

"Having a two year old is like having a blender that you don't have the top for." (Jerry Seinfeld)

Then I met my wife, and fell in love.  And she had a son.  And her son had a child.  A little girl named Marley.  And whether I liked it or not, Life handed me an unexpected invitation:

"You are now cordially invited to "Grandpa School".  Attendance is required; doing so happily is optional (but will be better for you!)"

My wife fell in love instantly with Marley, and even though she didn't get to see the baby nearly as much as she wanted to, she became "Wonder Grandma":  capable of super-human feats of love and endurance;  able to answer the same question 100 times patiently, make any boo-boo better, and laugh in delight at the smallest of things.  But I was more withdrawn (big surprise!)

"What do I say to a 4 year old?  She seems kinda shy towards me.  Maybe I should just leave her alone.  Besides, what do I know about what little girls like?  I'm not really her Grandpa anyway.  I'm just a nobody.  She won't even notice me."

But then something wonderful and magical happened.

One day, Deborah and I took Marley to a local park to play on the swings.  Grandma Deby, Marley, and Izzy our chihuahua trooped ahead, and I walked behind - content to be the "official photographer".  But as I squinted through the viewfinder, a small voice chirped up at me.

Walking to the park one summer day
"Papa Jon - hold my hand!"

And in that split second, like the Grinch on the top of Mt. Crumpet who when hearing the Whos in Whoville singing below, something changed in me.

And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say
That the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day!

I gently took Marley's hand and we walked together.  The simple touch of Marley's small fingers, dwarfed in my "big" man hands, instantly melted my heart and opened it.  "Papa Jon" was born and I began to be given some of the "super-powers" bestowed on grandpas around the world, such as:
  • Learning how to make the best Kraft macaroni and cheese dinners ever.
  • Being able to watch "Barney:  A Very Merry Christmas" 3 days straight (in August!) and still smile contentedly
  • Make goofy enough faces to laugh at (but not so weird to be scary!)
  • Make putting together a jigsaw puzzle of the United States seem really fun (and even manage to teach a little geography too!)
We see Marley regularly now, and truth be told, I still have a lot to learn about being a grandpa.  But I know my heart is open to doing so, especially when I remembered an equally magical moment from my past.

Seven years ago, on our first date, Deborah won my heart when she reached over and held my hand as we walked into the restaurant.

Our fingers touched and my heart melted.  A small hand, warm and soft, dwarfed in mine, invited me to step bravely into a new world.

And when I did, I found Love there.  Just as I did on that walk to the park with Marley.

Coincedence?  No.  I think it was an angel.  An angel whispering to the "better angels" of my own nature, offering me a great gift in exchange for my willingness to be open and grow.

I never would've guessed that there was such power in the tender touching of two hands.

"Creation of Adam" - Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel
Ah, yes.  Of course.  How could I forget.  How else would Life and Love touch us?  All that's required is we reach a little on our own.  A good Pearl to remember.

Grandma Deby and Marley swimming at the Club

No comments:

Post a Comment