Kind of a strange picture, to say the least. Yes, it's a little kid in very adorable plaid shorts and a (not-so-adorable) black ninja mask. Yes, he is holding a duct tape rose that is bright pink (more on the continuing saga that is the duct tape obsession in our house later). Yes, he is barefoot and we have clearly either just gotten out of the van from going somewhere or are getting ready to get into it, and my four year-old has no shoes and a ninja mask (and a rose).
So let's forget about commenting on my parenting prowess and get to the point of the picture. That other guy (the big one) is my dad. He lives about three hours away from us and is up here visiting for the week. That in itself is a gift. I love my dad, and we have had a close relationship for many years.
My kiddos adore their Granddaddy. Turtle willingly gives up her room for a week at a time and crashes out on her sister's floor. Bug immediately commandeers Granddaddy to play cars, or superheroes, or some kind of convoluted game of "well, I'll be all of the good guys and you can have this guy, no, I mean this one, and then I'll knock all your guys into the hot lava and then I win." This is another whole set of gifts.
My dad has early onset Alzheimer's Disease. The dad that I grew up with, who took me to baseball games and coached my softball team and drove me to look at colleges, is, well, changing. And I feel like we are in a race against time. How many memories, fun times together, Granddaddy-hugs, can we fit into my kids' brains before the times they have with him will be so different? How long will it be before my dad looks at my son and can't remember his name?
Gee, that's completely depressing. Sorry. I don't let myself go there much. But I do feel the pressure of this race. I do want to give my kiddos the experience of the same kinds of wonderful memories that I have of my dad. I want them to remember what kind of cool person he was / is. (And, to be honest, he's even a little bit cooler now than he was when I was little. He is slowly losing some inhibitions, which sounds scary until you realize that we have had some amazing dance parties in the past several months. And Dad can play a mean air guitar. Who would've thought?!)
My dad's thing is baseball. He really, really, really loves baseball. And not any particular team anymore, but just the game itself. He may have trouble remembering the date, but just ask him A-Rod's batting average, or who the starting pitcher in the All-Star game was. That is probably one of the most defining things about him when I think of him. His dream in retirement was to buy an RV and travel to every major league baseball stadium for a game.
That dream of his has pretty much been stripped away from him for now, and he is OK with that. He has a remarkably good sense of humor and acceptance for what is happening to him. But, hopefully, just that little snapshot of my dad will give you an idea of the importance and honor I saw with the gift that was given to me yesterday.
I was in the back of the house, folding the laundry (surprise, surprise), and when I came out to the playroom I found my gift. My dad was teaching Bug to bat. He was patiently moving Bug's hands on the bat to the right position. He was quietly pitching the Lightning McQueen soft baseball to him over and over and over. He was cheering and encouraging Bug with each swing. He was passing on his enjoyment and knowledge of his favorite game to his only grandson. And Bug will remember.
Thank you, God, for the gift You gave me, You gave my son, and You gave my family. I am in awe of the wonderful ways You show us Your love. I am truly thankful today.