A visit from his grandparents: Some things I don’t want to forget

I don’t want to forget how he smiled when he saw my mom and dad for the first time through our living room window.

How he took them each by hand, Ma-Maw to the right, Pa-Paw to the left, and immediately took them into his room.

Four whole precious days with their undivided attention.

I don’t want to forget how my dad, heavier and creakier now, would never refuse S when he asked him to get down on the floor, to carry him, to run with him.

“Pap-pow!” he calls my dad. “Mah-muh-ow,” he calls my mom.

How intimate he is with both of them, leaning close to their faces when they hold him, grinning and murmuring and giggling.

He must have shown them his Classic Trains train-enthusiast magazine at least fifty times. He never gets tired of it. And my parents were so easy-going and gentle, flowing with him wherever he went, whatever he wanted to do, and just looked and looked at that train magazine with him.

“Psshhh!” he says, imitating the trains brakes. “Choo-choo!” “Whooo-ooo-wooo!” “Trip-trap-huff-puff”—train going up a hill. And of course my very favorite: “Balla-booooor!” (All aboard!). “Balla-boor!” All day long. His love of trains is absolutely epic.

I don’t want to forget how he started talking so much more after they arrived. How his sweet little face takes on that serious look of concern as he tilts his head side to side and “talks”—a long stream of sentences made up of sounds that are probably exactly what we sound like to him sometimes. “Bashuh-shuh dolla badabidah, abeeya, abeeya-ya-eeya-eeya.” Impossible to capture on a recording or in typed words.

How he takes books off our “adult” shelves and sits down beside us to read them. “Hmm,” he says with delighted anticipation. And then he reads aloud—“Abeeya-beeya-taka-do,” tilting his head back and forth. He takes down Creative Visulation and Thich Nhat Hahn’s True Love and Zen and the Art of Meditation many times a week. He is particularly attached to Creative Visualization, fascinated by the 70s cover featuring women in headdresses. One morning he wanted me to read him John Hawke’s Travesty, a dark, dark wicked book, and one night he wanted  me to read to him How to Talk to the Disoriented Old-Old for his bedtime story.

He asked my parents to read him countless books over the past four days. “Buk! Buk!” Pointing. Getting Caw-Caw (his blankie). Settling in.

At the Chinese restaurant last night, he was in rare form, cracking us all up, going from the seat beside me to the seat between his grandparents. He’d climb into their arms and make them laugh so hard. Dancing, tickling them—“teedle, teedle, teedle,” he says, gently tickling them. Saying their names in his gravelly monster voice: “Ma-Maw! Pa-Paw!” Eating three fortune cookies and stealing all of my poor dad’s food. Climbing behind me on the booth and hiding there, his high-pitched delirious giggle.

We went out into the empty industrial park toward the “terts!”. Trucks. The bulldozers and frontloaders and whatnot in a fascinating construction site, after all the workers had gone home. The bright white moon above. My dad, who is an expert in the construction industry, telling my boy the names of each. The two of them had raced there, to the terts, across the deserted parking lot, S’s little arms pumping. (He slowed down and reached for my hand when it was time to cross the street–he learns so quickly.) “Mun!” he said, pointing to the moon. “Ball!” Yes, the moon is a ball. “Terts!” He is a boy through and through, nothing more fascinating to him than vehicles and machines and dirt and rocks.

At the bookstore, he had taken down a book all about trucks, drawing in his breath and running over to where we sat to show us. Then he went and got three more—of the same book! So all four of us could have the same book and we could all read along. He’d point to the different vehicles and I’d read aloud the names. He pointed so quickly I could barely keep up.

Under the white moon in the pink sky a the construction site, my dad climbed up onto the bulldozer’s tracks (illegally, I’m sure) and showed S the inside where the gears are. He called for his Ma-Maw, and so she climbed up, too. They’re always game, my parents. I have countless shots of them wearing crazy Asian basket-hats at a thrift store to make S laugh.

“Lemur-lemur-lemur-le-ma-le-ma-le-ma,” he calls out when it is time to snuggle. And my parents would lie down with him and Lemur-Lemur, Oowa, Kitty Meow-Meow, and Groves (Grover), and he’d tell all of them all about his day. He’d grunt and struggle over the mountain of pillows to get to my dad, and happily burrow down right beside him, inside the curve of his arm. “Pa-Paw,” he’d murmur sweetly, full of love and relief.

I always want to capture it all. I always have this feeling of not wanting to forget one thing. But it is impossible to capture and document it all. I’ll leave it at that, with gratitude for having been able to live it.





Leave a comment


  1. Precious!

  2. He is so precious. I just love how much he loves life. <3

  3. So sweet. ☺️


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