The tousled dark head bobbed inquisitively in front of the grandmother who was trying to finish another of her watercolor paintings. The small boy’s head weaved for a second from side to side and finally stopped. “Grannie, why are you so busy that we can’t go swing. I’m tired of just watching T.V.”
The graying head finally stopped her intent looking at her painting. “Now, Jaybird (her fond name for her small charge), are you really so ready that you can’t wait another few minutes?”
“But Gran, your few minutes are awfully long and I’m—I’m—just ready!”
“Just let me sign my name and then we can go outside.”
“O.K.” A thoughtful pause suddenly appeared on the child’s face, and finally, he asked, “ Gran, who is that you are painting?”
“Someone I loved very much at one time.”
“But he has a bald head and he looks awfully white—can’t you put more color in his face? Why is he looking so sad? Did he think a lot? Does he just like to sit on benches? Where is he? Have I ever met him before?”
Gran laughed suddenly, “Little Jaybird, will you give me time to even answer the first question?”
“But, Gran, I just want to know.”
“You are a ‘Want-to-know’ all the time. If you didn’t remind me so much of the young man in the painting, I think I would be quite ready to just say—go play by yourself and be quiet.”
“Oh, Gran, you can’t do that!! Everybody but you always tells me that. You’re special, you know,” and with that the little head leaned onto his grandmother’s knee.”
“Now, Jaybird,” she said as she smiled at him, “There you go again—the greatest finagler ever” and then she paused and looked quite thoughtful and intently at her small grandson,”—well, maybe, you are just the second one I’ve ever known.” She paused again and looked longingly and rather pensively at her painting.
The boy suddenly knew that this person sitting on the bench under the tree with a bald head was someone that his grandmother had loved very much at one time. Then with an intuition far above his age, he came and put his little arms around her legs and looked up—“Gran, he died—he didn’t he?—and you loved him very much.”
She lovingly took his small face in her paint-stained hands and looked him in the eyes that brought back so many memories of her grown son that had died of cancer several years ago. “Yes”, she said, “And I still do, and in heaven I’ll get to love him again because he is with God as we all will be if we love God.”
“Gran”, continued the small voice, “Is he someone I knew?”
“No, little one, no one you knew—but someone that you remind me of very, very much because he is the uncle who died before you were born.”
“Then do you love him more than me?”
The older, graying grandmother, saw flashbacks of the love that was shared between her and this dear son and once again grieved for the loss of life and memories never to be experienced.
“Jaybird, you are very precious to me, and today is wonderful because of you! The man in the painting is in the past. Come, let’s go play—today is too precious with you to not use to make new memories.”
And with that, the child held his grandmother’s hand and pulled her toward the door and to living joy again—although a little faster than her arthritis wanted her to go.
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