“Michael, did you hear that? When the basketball swishes through the net without touching the rim, that’s called string music!”
“Michael, let me show you something else. When you shoot from the side of the court, you can bank your shot off the glass into the basket. Isn’t that cool?”
“Michael, I can’t dunk the ball yet. I’m only about four feet tall. Mommy says I was born early and was very small, but I’ll get bigger. Daddy tells me to still play like I’m one of the really big boys.”
“Michael, can you believe I only weighed about four pounds when I was born? Daddy says Poppee was crying so hard when he saw me through the glass at the hospital. Then Poppee laughed as a 300-pound nurse told everyone that she only weighed about four pounds when she was born and look at her now!”
“Michael, when you practice basketball, you’ve got to shoot some free throws too. Daddy says the University of Kentucky wins many of its games at the free-throw line. I’m already pretty good at it.”
“Michael, my Aunt Deb said I looked sickly when she saw my newborn picture. I didn’t know what that meant but I loved all the attention, especially the cuddling in Mommy’s arms when she sang to me. And it didn’t hurt when Daddy slapped me on my back to make me burp.”
“Michael, just like you, Mommy says I was born in her tummy even before I came out and started growing up to play basketball. She and everyone cried a lot when they first saw me. Then they laughed, counting 10 fingers and 10 toes. I spent a lot of time in the doctor’s office when I was real little. Look at me now. I’m playing basketball and Daddy is teaching me to play golf.”
“Michael, since I missed that last shot, I’ve got to run some laps. Coach Dad calls that discipline. It makes you better.”
“Michael, I think I hear Nana calling!”
“Hurry, Jason! Mommy and Daddy are almost home with your baby sister Linda.”
“Jason, did I hear you talking to someone outside?”
My grandson smiled, his face flushed from shooting hoops in the backyard; or was it excitement from hearing he was going to see his baby sister in the flesh?
“Nana, am I really going to get to be a big brother this time?”
“Yes! Hurry and clean up.”
I remember when Jason’s brother Michael died without the two boys getting to see each other. My grandson curled into my lap that day and I rocked him for hours. I hurt for my daughter and son-in-law as they grieved for the loss of their second child. Malinda had been an only child and she vowed Jason would be a big brother.
“Nana, I’ll never get to be a big brother,” Jason cried relentlessly as I tried my best to comfort him that spring afternoon. My constant prayer for the past three years was about to be answered. A baby sister was on her way to meet her big brother Jason.
“Nana, I’ll be right back,” I heard my grandson scream with excitement.
Running to his bedroom, Jason closed the door with a bang. He grabbed a package of new golf balls his Daddy had given him even before Michael died in his mother’s womb. Jason ripped one of the shiny golf balls through the plastic wrapper. Then Jason suddenly stopped and knelt by his bedside.
Through the door, I heard my grandson praying.
“God, thank you for letting Michael come down from Heaven today to play basketball. I know Coach Jesus is doing a great job but I think I gave Michael some pointers he can show Mimi and Grandpa Jack. Right now God, I have to meet my baby sister!”
The honking of the SUV’s horn echoed throughout the house. Jason dashed out the front door as I rushed to keep pace with this seven-year-old.
What a blessed sight, I thought.
My son-in-law gently placed baby Linda into the arms of Jason whose face was aglow with love. Our daughter beamed as Jason took his hand with the clutched golf ball and attempted to slip it into Linda’s tiny outstretched hands.
“Hi Linda, I’m so happy to see you in person. You’re real tiny now but you’ll grow up and I’ll teach you how to play golf like me and Tiger Woods.”
“I’m your big brother.”
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