Two years. If you say it quick it doesn’t sound very long. But a lot can happen in two years. A boy can grow.
His father said, “He’s grown a bit, Mum. Wait till you see him …”
I thought of his father at the same age. Thirteen, a spurt age. Of course he will have grown a bit. Boys do.
And yet, I was unprepared.
Shoe planted on the paved drive, hand holding the doorjamb, he ducked his dark head through the car door and slowly folded himself out.
I was at a disadvantage. The drive was steep and I was on the lower side. I stopped walking and just looked up. And up. His slender frame and his cricket whites emphasized his height. Conscious of his father watching, I stood and looked, while he looked down at me. He didn’t smile.
He looked uncertain, awkward. I felt uncertain, awkward. Always, in the past, our meetings were joyous, tumultuous. I swept my little grandson up into my arms … even two years back it was a time of happy hugs and laughter.
But now? This boy was a stranger. My “Hello, darling” died in my throat. How should I address him? ‘Darling’ hardly seemed appropriate.
He stepped forward, held out his hand tentatively, “Hello, Gran.” Two more steps. Still looking into his face I took his hand. “Hello, Garth. How was the sports camp?”
“Fine.” He turned to help his younger brother remove their gear from the trunk of the car, ferry it indoors.
My son put his arm around my shoulders. His grin split his face in two. “Come on, Mum.” The inside me dissolved in tears while the outside me was ushered in, given orders, performed small tasks while my son busied himself with making coffee and his wife began preparations for the evening meal. In the bustle of normality I regained my composure.
Watching them together I realized that this thirteen year old topped his father by at least two inches. My son is a big man, over six feet tall.
Later, when the kitchen had been tidied and we were relaxing over yet another cup of coffee, I listened while the boys (notably Hamish) described the events of the camp and discussed plans for the coming season with their parents. Physically, I was there. Mentally, I heard the conversation. But my heart was heavy, and when I looked at Garth he turned his face away from me.
It was just an overnight visit and in the morning Garth took my case from me to carry it to the car. I held out my hand in thanks. Where, in this silent, solemn youth was my happy, laughing boy? He put his arms around my shoulders, my arms went round his waist, and for a short minute we held each other. His ‘goodbye’ was low and gruff. I just hugged him hard.
Another two years have passed. Garth still stands out among his classmates, being at least a head taller than most of them. The boys are both competent sportsmen, young men with their lives before them. I pray for them as they face the decisions that will determine their future.
I remember the afternoon when he called my preacher husband aside and said, “Granddad, I listened to what you said. I am not a Christian. Can you help me?”
Just as there are physical growth spurts, so too there are spiritual growth spurts, and I pray for these young men that, being rooted and grounded in Christ, they will grow spiritually as they have grown physically; that they will become spiritually competent sportsmen, ‘running with patience the race that is set before them.’
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