Saturday, May 3, 2014

Gramps Turns Ninety

I remember when I was a little girl, I would fall asleep next to Gramps, both of us stretched out in the sun streaming in their living room window, the flecked green carpet rough under my smooth cheek. I remember walking across the road to go fishing with him, watching the birds fly to his squirrel-proofed bird feeders, sitting on his lap and watching--fascinated each time--as he sucked his dentures back into his mouth with a click and a grin. 

It seems impossible to believe he turned ninety today, but he did. 

My youngest sister planned a surprise for him: as many of us children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren as possible would meet at his house in the morning and surprise him by cleaning up his yard. Gramps had a stroke about 13 years ago, and while he can still get around in a wheelchair, he certainly can't get outside to tend to his yard, so this sounded like the perfect way to wish him a happy birthday. 

I must have read the memo incorrectly, though, and we arrived almost an hour early. Gramps and Grandma get tired out pretty easily, and we didn't want to cause any fuss by walking in early, so we killed some time at a park down the road. I found the first empty robin's egg, always a reminder of the precious tenderness of new life.

It was a cool, windy morning, perfect for our first family hike in the woods.

A tree had fallen, split maybe by a lightning strike or a heavy burden of ice. Someone had begun to cut up the fallen limbs.

And the best treasure of the trip, this find, sitting near the trail head:

Clint figures it's a chicken egg. 

And then, we left the park and headed over to see Gramps. We raked leaves in the front yard and the back. We didn't have much to do, maybe an hour's work of leaves that had been blown up against the fences and the house.

We found all sorts of treasures as we were working. Gramps and Grandma both hate to throw things away. 

And then, when we were done, we went inside for a few minutes to give them hugs and kisses, to sing, to eat cake, and to remember.