Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


               Leaving the house just after six the other morning for an early round of golf, I was aware that my wife and I would be having all three of our youngest grandchildren for the day. Since a round of golf takes less time when there are no players in front of you, I figured to be home sometime around 9:00ish.

So there I am enjoying the early morning, playing my favorite game – golf (and have I mentioned that I’m retired?) when I received a text from Isaura. It read, “Little boy here asking for pancakes. When r u coming?” That little boy is Colson Charles, our 3-year-old grandson. He and his sister Brooklyne had arrived from their home in Turlock joined shortly by cousin Alyssa just up the street from us here in Ripon. Three little ones anxiously waiting for Granddaddy to come home and make breakfast. What could I do? I went home.

My wife is an outstanding cook, so I have no desire to compete with her in the kitchen. That would be utterly foolish on my part. However, I do have an edge on her when it comes to desserts and breakfasts. When I walked into the house I was greeted by squeals of excitement! “Granddaddy’s here! Granddaddy’s here!” You simply cannot put a value on such enthusiasm, especially when you are the focus of their exuberance. If I could just capture that moment and never let it fade.

There was a time thirty years ago when I was serving in the Navy as a chaplain when I was assigned to a ship, the USS White Plains (AFS4), home ported in Guam. Being as it was a supply ship, we spent very little time in home port because we were constantly out to sea resupplying the fleet around the western Pacific Rim and the Indian Ocean. We would be gone for months at a time, the longest separation from my family being nine months. I missed Isaura and our girls terribly. Arriving back in Guam was such an anticipated moment that it was difficult to sleep the last night before sailing into Agana Harbor. As we made our way into the harbor virtually all hands were on deck watching for the families gathered on the pier, who were equally anxious to see us. Catching a glimpse of Isaura, Laura and Jenny was euphoric! At that point I found myself conflicted. On the one hand I was overjoyed at seeing them. On the other hand I couldn’t wait for the ship to be nudged up against the pier, secured with lines around the stanchions, and the brow finally being set in place. The girls were about 8 and 5, so they’d be jumping up and down until we were finally reunited on the Quarter Deck. That was akin to the feeling of my grandkids being excited to have me home to make breakfast.

So back to pancakes. Colson was adamant about having pancakes this particular morning. The girls were fine with that, so I asked the same question I do every time we’re in the kitchen preparing to make something. “What’s the first thing we do before making something in the kitchen?” I’d ask. The response was immediate, “Wash our hands!” Colson hasn’t figured it out yet, but his sister and cousin are seven years old so they know the drill and are more than happy to show him.
Then we bring out the ingredients. Considering three small children and three adults, I doubled the batch. I use this as a teaching moment, from how to break an egg so as to separate the white from the yolk, to learning how to select the proper measuring spoons and cups. Visual, hands-on learning always worked best for me, so I use this with my grandkids. Looking at a ½ Cup alongside 1 Cup makes it easier to explain how 1 Cup is two ½ Cups. They are so proud when they get this stuff right! All the while Meema (grandkids’ name for Isaura) is preparing the bacon.

Perhaps the moment enjoyed by all the kids is when we set up the electric pancake griddle. I’ve had this one for years and it works great. I allow the girls to pour batter on the hot griddle in a large enough circle that they can then use a cookie cutter to cut shapes. To see their faces when they are seated at the table with a heart or star-shaped pancake is worth all the extra work.

What is our favorite way to eat these pancakes? Why with fresh sliced strawberries and Cool Whip, of course! And Colson is our bacon boy!

After cleaning up, the kids were playing outside in the back yard, which included “feeding the birds.” I have a 4 Cup feeder for the humming birds. I make a large batch of “juice” (water, sugar and red food coloring so I can see the level) and keep it refrigerated until use. It takes about one day for the birds to consume the feeder! Alyssa took her cousins out to show them how it is done, which I’ve been doing with her since she was a newborn.

I’m enjoying being a grandfather more than anything else I have experienced in life. It is particularly gratifying to watch the three grandkids working together measuring all the ingredients, but particularly seeing Brooklyne and Alyssa teaching Colson.
Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of family, and especially grandkids!

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