Three year old Jack came bouncing out of his Dada’s truck into our kitchen announcing that we were going to hunt bear. “Papaw we need a gun.” I quickly unrolled the Christmas wrapping paper off the cardboard roller, drilled a hole for the handle off the baby bottle brush, and voila, we had a long gun. I taped up one end while he found some AA batteries for bullets to load like a long rifle.
A piece of typing paper marked up by a yellow marker became a fire. A pan from the kitchen became a pot to cook our bear meat in. The hunt was brief as we quickly located the bear in our computer room and dispatched him post haste. Jack skinned and cleaned him and then cooked him over the open flame. The imaginary smells made us hungry.
I cease to marvel at the grands. Each one is different requiring different amounts of time and attention. Jack has a playroom and toy closet overflowing at home. At my house it’s big game hunts, or sometime I take Emmie and Jack on a quick trip to Mars or the moon on our invisible spaceship. Other times they confiscate my writing pads, sticky notes, and Mamaw’s markers as they occupy themselves for long stretches drawing and coloring and writing messages. As I’m taping a magnetic holder onto the back of another masterpiece ready to adorn the fridge, Jack has me help him write “Papaw,” and then asks, “How do you write I love you?”
I’m tired. It’s almost perpetual motion. I try to find a game we can play while I sit in one of my wife’s student chairs. I can sit down; the trick is getting hold of something to help support me getting up. “I used to run just like a deer; now I need a new landing gear. I’m too old to cut the mustard anymore.”
I can rest later. I told my wife these days of play will pass quickly. Too soon they will find other things and people to play with. I count each moment a treasure. I look at his baby brother crawling, trying to pull up, and getting ready to take those first wobbly steps. Don’t know that I’ll hang in there for bear hunts with him, but it’s a great motivation to keep plugging. I don’t know if the grands will miss me and our childhood games. What blessings, what joy. Too soon I’ll be replaced by cellphones and video games. Until then, somebody help me up. Jack and I haven’t even started on the buffalo and deer he just saw. Strike while the iron is hot. Fish while they’re biting.
By Dr. Juan Harrison