Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Precious Ones

             Today I spent most of my Monday with Alyssa, my five-and-a-half year old granddaughter. Since she lives less than a mile from us we get to see her quite a bit more than our other grandkids that live twenty-five minutes away in Turlock and Oakdale.

I have been feeding hummingbirds in our yard for years. Alyssa often helps me in this task. We put on a big pot of water, bringing it to a boil to remove the impurities which are harmful to these tiny little feathered wonders. We then add the sugar with a few drops of red food coloring. The food coloring serves two purposes: First, it attracts the hummingbirds to the liquid sustenance, and second, it allows me to look out the window and determine if the feeders need to be refilled.

Among the numerous rituals we share together, making the bird food and then filling the glass feeders is one of our favorites. The other morning as we were pulling out all the ingredients for making pancakes, I turned to Alyssa and asked her a question. “Alyssa? Which should we do first? Feed the birds, or feed ourselves?” She certainly did not disappoint me with her answer. She spoke right up and said, “Feed the birds!” “You’re absolutely right!” I declared. “Let’s go feed the birds.” So off we went to the garage where we keep the plastic jugs of solution in a spare refrigerator. We dutifully filled both feeders which hold four cups each. This lasts between a day-and-a-half to two days. I’ve counted as many as 15 hummingbirds around just one feeder. After filling the containers Alyssa and I always yell, “Come and eat, birds!”

When possible our other five-year-old granddaughter, Brooklyne, will be there with Alyssa, so we double the pleasure and fun. But this morning I only had Alyssa. My wife had left for work, and our house guest, Eric, was sitting in the living room. I told Alyssa to go get her “steps.” This is the two-step step ladder we use in the kitchen to reach those items on the upper shelves. For my two precious little granddaughters it is used by them to help me make cookies, waffles, and pancakes. Alyssa then began to pull out all the needed ingredients: primarily flour, sugar, eggs. The first five pancakes to come off the griddle go directly to Alyssa where she then uses my cookie cutter collection to cut the hotcakes into patterns of her choosing. She cut one for Eric that is a seal. Then she made two for me: a golf flag, (usually called a pin), and a heart shape. When I saw them on my plate I identified them out loud. I said, “How cool, Alyssa! A golf pin! And a heart!” Without looking up from cutting more pancakes, she said, “That’s because I love you, granddaddy.” I ask you: Is there anything more precious than the open, unabashed expression of love from a five-year-old? I dared not speak at that moment knowing I might tear up, so I simply walked over to her and gave her a kiss.

Just before we sat down to our meal, I told Alyssa, “You’re my best helper!” She smiled and said, “Yeah, I am, except when Brookie’s here, then we’re both your best helpers.” I couldn’t argue with that!

After consuming nearly all the pancakes, I was cleaning up the kitchen while Alyssa and Eric were having a conversation on the couch. I went out to the garage for a moment, and as I came back in I overheard Alyssa tell Eric, “When I go to heaven I’m going to see my grandma.” Mary, my son-in-law Ken’s mother, passed away a couple of years ago. Alyssa still talks about her, so this did not altogether surprise me. It was just in the very matter-of-fact manner in which she stated her plans to one day see Grandma Mary again. I loved it!

I have been blessed in my life in so many ways. But having the love of a grandchild is such a gift that it is unmatched by anything else I’ve experienced in life. And I’m the guy who used to make light of the fuss some folks made over their grandkids. I would snicker when reading the license plate frame which states, “My grandkids are cuter than yours!” Alyssa was our first grandbaby, so I confess that I was totally smitten the moment I laid eyes on her. I have let it be known to our two daughters and their husbands that more grandbabies was just fine by me! I’m a convert!

The Bible emphasizes that life is fleeting. It is so fleeting that it seems to pick up steam as the months and years slip by. I’m like the San Francisco trolley car conductor who is always applying the brakes on the hills of the City by the Bay. I also acknowledge the truth of the old adage, “Time waits for no man.”  

So with my faith firmly established in Jesus my Savior, and the assurance of eternity in God’s glorious heaven, I take comfort in the fact that my grandkids know that heaven is the goal. And I will see these precious ones again. What could be better?

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