|Proverbs 17:6 – “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and the pride of their parents.”
When our first grandchild was on the way, I was a little nervous. My wife was excited beyond description. Me? I was not. I heard every grandparent say to us “Oh, it is the most wonderful thing!” I don’t desire to hold a baby. It is just me. I don’t really want to hold tiny babies. I feel like their head is going to break off and hit the floor at any moment, and it will be my fault. Even after Milo was born, I pretended to be into it, but I wasn’t. I had not bonded. (Yet.) My wife slept on the floor in his room the 2nd or third week of his life to make sure he was breathing while he slept (and while she didn’t). I slept in our bed back home.
Grant and April invited us to their church for baby day. Our grandson would be one of the babies that would be prayed over that day. We had a family pew. There was April, Grant (holding Milo), my wife, then me. I was singing the songs, some unfamiliar to me, so I was focused on the big screen in front of me, trying to keep up. I glanced over at Milo, and every time I did, he had both eyes directly on me. Then, I looked at him and he extended both arms towards me and leaned my way. I couldn’t turn down that invitation. I reached out and took him into my arms and held him for a time. He studied my face intently. Not sure what he was thinking, but something happened right then and there, at that moment. I bonded with him. We were buddies.
Not long after that day, while I was working part-time at AutoZone, on a Saturday, I heard “Papa?” loud and clear. Grant had snuck into the store with Milo. I was helping a customer. “Excuse me, that’s my grandson calling.” I broke away for a second. “Hey Pookie! How is my peanut? Give me just a minute.” I went back to my customer, a little embarrassed that I was melting in the presence of my grandson. “That’s my grandson.” I heard all over the store “Papa? Papa?” It was like a baby penguin calling for mother, and waiting for her voice to return the greeting. “Be there in a minute, Peanut.”
Right before Christmas, we took him to the Train exhibit at North Park Mall. I hate fighting traffic like we saw that day, but I did it for him. I lifted him up so he could see the locomotives pulling cars through the plastic mountains and over miniature sized bridges. What bonds us to people? I would say it is when we invest time in them. When we serve them. When we sacrifice for them.
One night our middle son threw up at about 3 AM, in his bed, the top bunk. My wife was asleep, so I decided to let her rest and I would take care of it. Once I assessed the damage, I realized this would be a long process. It was all over him, his pajamas, his bed, the wall. It ran down the wall to the floor below. His brother Grant, snoozing in the bottom bunk, never woke up, even as I pulled the beds away from the wall so I could wipe down everything. I pulled the bedspread off and put it in the bathtub. I did my best not to get nauseated as well. Years later, I was painting that bedroom, and noticed all this stuff along the baseboard. It was traces of vomit I had missed that night long ago. When we do for others, and do it sacrificially, we love deeply.
I cannot express the love I feel for our children. I can’t find words. John the apostle in his gospel does a fine job. “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son . . SO loved. What a wonderful way to describe it with that little word. Father in heaven, thank You for being our Father, in Jesus’ name, Amen!-Jeff Beall