Our years are but a sigh


When we are invited into our grandchildren’s lives, we better seize the invite. We finish our days like a sigh and every moment is infinitely priceless. Those special invites are rare and I’m amazed that they still want to be with us.
Our children fit into their generation; we are comfortable in ours. But, it’s our time together when our children and their children learn from us. They will carry our words and values into their generation.
Our time together might be bumpy and wild like a roller coaster ride. Our daughter called. “Why don’t we go to Grandparents’ Weekend at BIOLA. We will meet Spencer’s film team and will tour the campus.”
Our 22-year-old grandson is doing a lot of shaking and moving these days. I knew I needed to hold onto to my support stockings; there would be a lot of walking and climbing. I better double-up on my proteins and get back on the treadmill before the weekend.
To quote Jerry B. Jenkins, a writer: “The pacing of a good piece of writing is akin to a ride on a roller coaster. The highlights may be the big whoosh on the way down or the dizzying loops of the new monsters of the midway. But you’d be shortsighted to forget that half the fun is in the anticipation, that slow clacking up to the apex, where spines tingle, breathing stalls and hearts pound.”
Was he talking about visiting grandchildren in college? I think so. The pacing of entering our grandchildren’s lives is akin to a roller coaster ride and meeting the new monster of the midway — ourselves.
The weekend before, we made a day trip to Gunnison to see our other 22-year-old grandson in college and we entered his world. We took the scenic route from Lake City to Gunnison. We tiptoed across the top of Wolf Creek and jumped from peak to peak. We were on a roller coaster, up and down and meeting ourselves on hairpin curves. I was screaming, but I wasn’t having fun.
When we finally arrived in Gunnison, I said, “There is no way I’m going back home the way we came. I might not even have to pretend to have a heart attack. My heart is pounding so hard I’ll have to be airlifted out of here.”
I felt the whoosh and dizzy loops and my spine tingled. My breath stalled, my heart pounded and that was on the trip before we arrived at Western State University Colorado. I guess that’s what Jenkins was talking about.
Creede, my grandson, challenged me to a game of pool. Was I up to the challenge? I was doing good until I couldn’t reach the ball. He said, “Grandma. Do it like this. Crawl up on the table, lay flat and spread out. Hold your hand flat and run the stick next to it and lock your thumb around it and let it slide.”
It took four members of the family to lift me up on the table. There was a lot of chuckling, snickering and rolling of eyes.
I chalked my stick, I laid down across the table and heard the slow clacking up to the apex. I spread out, my breath stalled. I did what I was told. A crash between ball and stick, a whoosh, the ball bounced into the pocket. I had to climb off the 10-foot-high table with the red felt, but not without a lot of cheap shots from family members. So, this is what good writing and time with grandchildren feels like. The thrill of being up in the air without any way down and annoying characters cackling is supposed to make a good story and carry my words to the next generation.
My grandson gave me a high-five, hugged and kissed me. He picked me up, jiggled me up and down and I heard my spine crack. It was the best day ever for a college student who was homesick and appreciated us coming. But for me, it was a week of recovering before my trip to California and Grandparents’ Weekend with my other grandson, Spencer.
My daughter offered to pick me up at Orange County Airport for the weekend. I said, “Oh, no, while I’m out there, I want to spend time with you. I’ll fly in early and spend the week before and afterwards.”
The plane ticket was purchased, and plans were made. My Sweet Al and our son dropped me off at the airport in Albuquerque and drove back to Pagosa. I didn’t plan on the plane having a flat tire. When does a plane have a flat tire? The other plane they had scheduled was held up for a four-hour delay in a blizzard in Philadelphia. Another obstacle would be changing planes and making the connection in Phoenix.
The scheduled flight number had been changed twice and, on the other end, our children were waiting for me. They drove from Grass Valley to Sacramento wondering what flight I was on. They waited four hours and couldn’t leave without me. They could have, but didn’t.
When I arrived, our daughter told me there was a change of plans. They didn’t count on Spencer’s car breaking down at college and we would be taking his other car to him. My daughter and I would drive from Grass Valley to LA in the red hopped-up Mustang which was the envy of his peers.
How would we get home? The bus? Yes, we’d ride the bus home. I thought buses went out with the Trailways and Greyhound Bus Line back in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Apparently not. Greyhound is long and sleek and still going strong with free WiFi and a bathroom.
When I told my friends, they couldn’t believe we would take a bus all the way from Southern California to Northern California. “Take pictures. Tell us all about the adventure. We’re almost envious. It’s going to be so much fun.” My friends also need to get a life.
We started the trip early morning and drove down California’s coastline onto the campus in the beefed-up, too-hot-to-handle ’67 Mustang with a modified muffler, named “Red Meat.” When we entered the campus, we were met with wolf calls from the school jocks. Is this how it feels to go back to college? I think I can handle this next generation.
Final brushstroke: David, the warring poet, penned, “We finish our years like a sigh.” When I hear my grandchildren say, “Thanks for coming,” and they give me a high-five, I know that special moment carries me and keeps me young. Hopefully stepping out of our comfort zones and riding the roller coaster will give them words and values to carry with them through their lives.
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