The Grandkids Three are back. Ringing the door bell. Swimming in the pool. Looking for snacks.
My heart has been under construction. Thoughts of inconvenience and disruption are being dismantled to make room for love. Real love.
I've been thinking about those days when I was six, and seven, and ten. My mind scans through the list of grownups that I knew and searches for those who knew best how to love an awkward, shy child.
Susie comes to mind. She was my first and best babysitter. She led my siblings and I on expeditions into the woods. We walked on paths we had not discovered before and swung from vines hanging from the trees. She taught us how a gentle touch would make a Johnny Jump Up spring open. She bent my thumbs around an acorn top and taught me to blow across it just so. Six or seven of us piled into her blue Volkswagon beetle. She drove us around the back country roads and we laughed and laughed. I remember that blue Bug and the blue sky and the sunshine of that day. She gave us her time and attention. She loved without expectation.
Sister Eleanor Grace was my sixth grade teacher. She had a big heart, a big personality and a big laugh. She loved history. So did I and this made her my friend. She was loud and I was quiet but she did not scare me. She was a great story teller and an encourager. If you did something well, she couldn't bear to keep it to herself. She would beam and shower praise and share the news with the whole class. She loved with enthusiasm.
Aunt Mary was quiet. She didn't play with us. She brought us argyle socks, Fun Pads with mazes and dot-to-dot pages, and Avon perfume. She watched me spin around and around in the living room and did not say, "Stop that, child! You'll make yourself sick." I sat on the couch next to her and she asked me questions about what I liked...what I was learning. There's a difference between the Uh-huh kind of listening and real listening. Aunt Mary loved with real listening.
In light of these memories, it's Take Two with the Grandkids Three. I play in the pool with them. I take them into consideration when filling the grocery cart. Grandkid One tells me every day, "My momma and my daddy ain't married no more. " Sadness and shame creep into her voice every time she tells me. I tell her I'm sorry...and I am.
Grandkid Three dashes about and bellows in his deep voice and crashes into things. I've stocked up on band-aids. We visit in the kitchen while I wrap another band-aid around the cut on his toe. "Thank you Miss Sharon," he smiles up at me.
I smile back down. "You're welcome."
Last night we visited with Grandkids Two and Three over gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. I showed them the hummingbirds dueling at the feeder outside the window.
Grandkid Two looked out the window and then around the room. "Ya'll are rich," she said in the unguarded way of little ones.
Grandkid Three nodded his head in agreement, "Yeah! Rich!"
"Why do you say that?"
"You've got a HUGE house with LOTS and LOTS of rooms and a pool. It's FUN here. Fun. Fun."
And they are right. We are rich but not in the way that they think. It seems to me that love is best when it's an action verb. Love that listens and serves and cares. A lesson learned in life's laboratory from the Grandkids Three.