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Read an Excerpt
A Grandparent's Gift of Love
By Edward Fays
Warner BooksCopyright © 2002 Edward Fays
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEMBRACING EVERY STAGE OF LIFE
Recognizing the beauty in each season of life and moving toward it with childlike curiosity and hopeful anticipation
Why do so many of us fear the aging process? As life moves forward, some doors close forever while new doors open, ready to provide us with fresh adventures that will hopefully enrich our lives even further. Welcoming each year with verve, by anticipating who we'll meet and all that we'll learn, is the finest way to live. Our life is a book that we write as we go along, and like any book, we must strive to make it interesting and, of course, make it complete.
A little elementary school was set on a small parcel of land, complete with jungle gym and basketball hoop. From the school playground you could see the front porch of a nearby senior center. The kids were always too busy playing to pay any attention to the center, but many of the seniors delighted in watching the kids frolic in the schoolyard.
One day Ms. Valentine, the first-grade teacher, noticed the seniors watching the children and thought it would be a good idea to bring them together. So early one morning the following week, the children were escorted hand-in-hand out the door of their classroom, through the playground, beyond the school fence, and over to the senior center.
The students were allowed to mingle if they liked, and some were introduced to residents of the center. Remmy Evans, an enterprising little boy, was strolling around as if he were sizing everyone up when he spotted an older gentleman outfitted in a checkered flannel shirt and sky-blue baseball cap sitting off in the corner. Their eyes met, and the man waved Remmy over. "Hello, I'm Mr. Royce," said the man, extending his hand as if they were about to engage in a business meeting.
Remmy observed Mr. Royce's hand curiously and said, "Excuse me, mister, but why are you so wrinkled?" Mr. Royce laughed heartily and said, "Now, that is a very good question. Would you really like to know?" "Sure," replied Remmy. "What's your name?" asked Mr. Royce.
Remmy hopped up on a chair and said, "My name is Remmy Theodore Evans. But most people just call me Remmy." "Well, Remmy, let me tell you the story about wrinkles. Most people think wrinkles are a sign of age, but they're really a sign of use. When you're wrinkled, like me, it means you have lived a full life. It means you have more memories than most people do. I'll show you what I mean. How many times has Santa Claus visited your house?"
Remmy scratched his head, and his eyes rolled back before he finally responded. "Well, I'm six, but I can only remember the last couple of years, and Santa Claus came those times." "So you know for sure that Santa Claus visited your house at least twice?" asked Mr. Royce.
"Yeah, that's right," replied Remmy. "Listen to this," announced Mr. Royce. "Santa Claus has visited me eighty-nine times!" Remmy's eyes opened wide, and with his mouth gaping he declared, "Wow! You must have a lot of great toys!" "I did," said Mr. Royce, laughing. "Many of them are old now, like me."
"But when toys get old they don't get wrinkled," remarked Remmy.
Mr. Royce chuckled and said, "That's right. Instead they get chipped paint and broken pieces. It's kind of the same thing. The same way toys get used, people's bodies get used. Toys get old because we use them. My body is old and wrinkled because I used it. Do you have an old toy that doesn't work well anymore?"
"Yeah, a couple of them," replied Remmy. "Well, that's the way my body is now. Do you remember having fun playing with those toys?" "Yeah! My best friend, Ronnie, would come over, and we would play with them a lot," Remmy said excitedly.
"So you have happy memories playing with your old toys, even though they don't work too well anymore?" "I sure do, but I like my new ones, too." "What if you never played with your old toys?" asked Mr. Royce. "They might still be like new, but you wouldn't have fun memories of playing with them, right?"
"I guess you're right." "Which would you rather have, the good times playing with your friend or your old toys looking like new?" Without hesitation Remmy exclaimed, "The fun with my friend! We laughed a lot."
"That's the same way I feel about my body," explained Mr. Royce. "I had fun in my life and did a lot of exciting things. If I wanted to protect my body and try to keep it looking like new, I would have missed out on some great times. The same thing goes for you and your toys. If you leave all your toys in the box and never play with them, they'll never get old and break, but you'll never have any fun with them either. Have you ever skinned your knee?"
"Yeah, look!" Remmy rolled his pants leg up over his right knee, proudly displaying a wound from the playground. "That's okay," said Mr. Royce. "You're using your body and having fun. I had a lot of bumps and bruises in my life. I usually got them while I was doing something I liked. It was worth getting a bump on the knee. The same way using a toy until it breaks is okay, because you enjoyed playing with it." With a concerned look on his face, Mr. Royce asked, "Am I making sense?"
"I get it," obliged Remmy. "I was having fun when I skinned my knee."
Mr. Royce smiled and continued. "When a baby is born, she's soft and smooth because she's new. But she also hasn't had any fun yet. She doesn't have any memories of playing with her friends either. But as she grows, she'll have fun, make memories with her friends, and, sure enough, skin her knee. When she gets old, like me, she'll have wrinkles, too.
"So now do you know why I have all these wrinkles?" "Yeah!" said Remmy. "You're all used up!" Laughing boisterously, Mr. Royce confessed, "Yes, that's a big part of it. I've also got wrinkles because I've lived a long time and had a lot of fun. I like to think of each wrinkle as a great memory."
"You must be really happy," declared Remmy. With a nostalgic look on his face, Mr. Royce responded, "I certainly am, son. I certainly am."
As Ms. Valentine called for the students to say their goodbyes, Mr. Royce reached out his wrinkled hand to say farewell, but Remmy didn't shake it. Instead he gave Mr. Royce an affectionate hug and ran off to join his classmates. A flurry of distant memories flashed through Mr. Royce's mind, and his eyes prickled with tears. He was delighted with the new memory he and Remmy had just created. He hoped it would be one Remmy would think of someday, many years from then, when he had wrinkles, too. Inspired by ANITA HART
When There Are No Words to Say ...
She stood there shivering, raking her fingers over her head, strands of hair falling onto the sink; some snared under her nails. Her nerves were frayed, a violin string stressed to the breaking point. The wind and rain fueled the intensity of the moment, beating against the glass like an intruder trying to force his way inside.
I stood off in the corner, silently, out of sight. My eyes beaded with tears as I gazed at her, trying to comprehend what she was thinking. But how could I understand, even though I desperately wanted to? How could I possibly know what it felt like to be moments away from beginning a second round of chemotherapy treatments?
Standing there, I recalled the day more than a year earlier when she had first gotten the diagnosis. It was summer, one of those mornings when you step outside and are smacked by the sumptuous bouquet of flowers in bloom. We had planned on playing tennis that morning, but the phone rang, changing our lives forever. I walked inside, my cheery smile and sprightly colored yellow-and-white tennis outfit in stark contrast to the moment. She was sitting at the table, her face whitewashed, her hands fidgety. "I have cancer," she said crisply, so I would hear it the first time, so she wouldn't have to repeat those stinging words. The fresh-scented summer morning suddenly turned to gloom. "They want me to come in next week to discuss treatment options," she continued. "I just went in for my annual checkup the other day, and now they want to talk with me about treating cancer. My God!"
We made it through that morning, sharing our fears, which somehow made us both feel a little less frightened. We rode a tidal wave of emotions, crying together one minute and then convincing ourselves that she could beat the disease. The two of us shared our grief alone before sharing the news with family and friends.
She endured the chemotherapy treatments with bravery, losing more than fifteen pounds and most of her hair in the process. I had never bought her a hat before, but I purchased three in the next year. Once, as I placed a hat on the counter and handed my credit card to the saleslady, I broke down crying.
Then some good news came. Finally. The treatments worked. They got the enemy, I thought to myself. Thank you, God. It took some adjusting, but life got back to normal, that chapter of our lives behind us. Her hair grew back, she gained some weight, and we resumed our weekly tennis match. The hats she'd worn were happily stored in a box and stuffed in the closet of the spare bedroom. But now, in the time it takes to answer a phone call, a frightening new chapter has begun.
Standing there in the corner I asked myself, What can I say to her? I have asked that excruciating question a thousand times, and I asked it again. But at that moment, as she delicately caressed her cheeks and glared deep within herself, I realized that no word has been coined that can encompass a person's feelings. So hugs were invented instead. One loving embrace speaks volumes, so that's what I did.
I walked over silently, closed my eyes, and hugged her. I hugged my twenty-five-year-old granddaughter with all the love I had in my heart and soul, and then I accompanied her to the hospital. Inspired by ROSALIE PACKARD
Jake was in the second grade when his parents told him his gradpa would be retiring after working at the same company for forty years. With a look of amazement on his face, Jake said, "I'm only seven, so that means Grandpa has been there ..." He thought for a second and finally exclaimed, "A really long time!"
His parents chuckled and said, "Yes, Grandpa has worked there a long time, and that's why we are throwing him a surprise party."
Jake loved his grandpa very much and wanted to do something special for the occasion. He offered to help with the party plans but was told that all the arrangements had been made. Undaunted, Jake knew there must be some way he could show his grandpa how much he was appreciated and congratulate him on his retirement.
Jake remembered the business card his grandpa had given him a couple of years earlier. It was wedged within the mirror's wooden frame in his bedroom, between a two-dollar bill and a picture of him and his dad on the Ferris wheel at the church carnival. He scrambled up the stairs and into his room. Taking the tattered card in his hand, he realized that his grandpa would no longer have that position. Positions are good, he thought, so he decided to create a new one for his grandpa. Jake told his parents about the idea, and they said it was wonderful.
When the big day came, Jake was ready. A collection of different-size boxes, all beautifully wrapped, were placed on a gift table-that is, all except for Jake's. He didn't want to include his gift with the others, so he carried it around with him the entire evening.
He watched his grandpa open the other gifts, "oohing" and "aahing" at each one. He wanted his gift to be the last one Grandpa opened, so as the evening drew to a close, he took his grandpa's hand and ushered him over to a chair in the corner, away from the crowd.
"I've got something for you, Grandpa," Jake stated with pride, offering up the gift.
With that, his grandpa propped Jake up on his left knee and declared, "Well, this sure is a beautifully wrapped present. Did you do this all by yourself?"
"Kind of," Jake replied, shrugging his shoulders. "Mom helped me a little." Grandpa smiled. "Well, it looks wonderful. May I open it now?"
Jake enthusiastically nodded his head.
As Grandpa unwrapped the package, his cheeks grew moist with tears. Jake had given him the greatest gift he could have ever asked for: official business cards with his new title: FULL-TIME GRANDPA. There were no phone or fax numbers because now his time was his own. There was no business address because his new position didn't require one. Jake gazed lovingly into his grandpa's eyes and said, "Congratulations on your retirement. Now your full-time job is just being my grandpa!"
Holding one of the cards between his right thumb and index finger and wiping his tears with the back of his hand, Grandpa asked jokingly, "Well, how much do I get paid?"
With his bright blue eyes expressing total devotion, Jake responded, "As many hugs as you want each day."
Beaming with joy, Grandpa gave Jake an affectionate hug and buoyantly replied, "Well, I guess that means I'm a rich man." Inspired by BEN STEWART
Excerpted from A Grandparent's Gift of Love by Edward Fays Copyright ©2002 by Edward Fays. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
|Introduction: The Compelling Story Behind A Grandparent's Gift of Love|
|Chapter 1||Embracing Every Stage of Life||1|
|Excuse Me, Mister, but Why Are You So Wrinkled?||3|
|When There Are No Words to Say||7|
|Getting Paid in Hugs||10|
|Quite an Accomplishment||13|
|A Night to Remember||15|
|The Perfect Moment||18|
|A New Father's Confusion||22|
|Chapter 2||Power of Love||27|
|So Long for Now||29|
|Swinging on the Back Porch||33|
|A Day in the Life||36|
|Cozy in a Snowstorm||40|
|For Ever and Ever, I Do||43|
|A Link in the Chain||46|
|Chapter 3||Courage and Sacrifice||49|
|Rosie's Roller Skates||54|
|More than a Second Chance||62|
|Chapter 4||Believing in Ourselves||79|
|Taking a Chance||83|
|Why Am I Special?||86|
|Practice Makes Perfect||89|
|Message in a Bottle||90|
|You Can Do It||94|
|Chapter 5||Hope and Spirit||97|
|Strength of a Whisper||99|
|A Search for Happiness||108|
|This One Day||110|
|Strength of Spirit||113|
|Chapter 6||Knowing How to Learn from Life||123|
|A Time of Discovery||125|
|A Lesson Learned from a Life Lived||131|
|The Long and the Short of It||134|
|Stairway to Heaven||136|
|The School of Hard Knocks||140|
|Chapter 7||Purity and Innocence||149|
|Assigned Seats in Heaven||151|
|Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes||153|
|Grandfather for Hire||158|
|Time for a Bubble Bath||164|
|A Lot in Common||167|
|The Dinner Table||169|
|Chapter 8||Healing A Broken Heart||171|
|A Chance Encounter||173|
|How About a Catch?||182|
|It's Never Too Late||185|
|A Measure of Success||189|
|Where All the Roads Lead||193|
|Chapter 9||Giving of Ourselves||203|
|A Simple Gesture||205|
|A Lost Soul||213|
|Just a Moment of Your Time||215|
|Happiness on a String||218|
|Breakfast Is Served||224|
|Chapter 10||Essence and Vitality||229|
|The Swimming Lesson||231|
|Purity of Heart||233|
|A Moment in Time||235|
|Eight Ingredients for a Wonderful Day||238|
|She Had It All||241|
|Chapter 11||Understanding Others||247|
|Signs and Sorrows||256|
|What's the Difference?||259|
|A Parent's Desire||266|
|Chapter 12||The Simple Things||273|
|The Cookie Tower||275|
|An Old Photograph||277|
|Home Sweet Home||280|
|Hot Dogs and Little Hands||286|
|A Perfect Fit||289|
|Chapter 13||Enriching Our Lives||293|
|You've Got Twenty-Four Hours ... What Would You Do?||295|
|That Could Be You||305|
|Chapter 14||Warmth and Wisdom||313|
|The End of Innocence||315|
|Reflections on the Passage of Time||320|
|Midnight at the Diner||326|
|The Life of a Grandchild||333|