Thursday, May 15, 2014

The things we do for love

"Are you going to write about the spitmobile?"
Well, yes. Maybe I will.
I cast a casual glance when grandma and her two most favorite passengers pulled into the driveway the other day. I had expected them to get home quite a bit earlier, but there's nothing especially unusual about a late arrival on the part of that jolly troupe of wanderers.
"Where have you been?" I asked.
"The dentist called right before I left to pick them up from school," she answered. "They had a cancellation, so I got the boys in for a checkup a whole two weeks early."
Lucky boys.
As I walked towards the car, I noticed streaks of a white, paint-like substance spattered on both sides just behind the back windows.
"What's that stuff?" I queried
"I took along their toothbrushes and some toothpaste," she replied.
My eyes were already beginning to roll.
"Well, they had to spit somewhere."
Ah, the things we do for love.
Now, I'm not one to complain.
Well, actually, I am.
But the fact is, our lives have been different ever since our youngest grandsons came to stay. And it's been nothing short of wonderful, especially for this old duffer, who, more than anything, needs the magic kind of medicine only they can provide.
But things have changed.
Like my so-called "man-cave," the set of rooms in the back of our big old house that was a garden apartment once upon a time. It's got a window-lined living room with a TV, a sectional couch and my beloved recliner; plus a bathroom, a teeny kitchen with no stove, but a fridge; and what was once a bedroom, which I gradually converted into a combination project area, computer room and music studio over the years.
Back when my own boys were small, I used it as a home office until they gradually encroached on the space when they entered their teenage years and needed room to eat, play video games and cards with their buddies, eat, drink every cold beverage in the house, eat, watch television and movies, eat, sleep all day every Saturday, and, uh. eat.
After they flew the nest, I cautiously moved back in, kind of like a hermit crab reclaiming a favorite shell.
When the little boys and their dad arrived on the scene, the grandma-lady quickly converted their Uncle Colin's old bedroom into a room the two youngsters could share. It's a large, high-ceilinged place, with windows facing the park across the street and plenty of space for a pair of beds, plus dressers, bookshelves, a desk for homework, and lots of play area.
"This will be perfect for them," she said, and we both blithely dreamed of a wholly unrealistic "Leave it to Beaver" kind of scenario, where quiet, well-mannered children stay and study and play in their rooms until called for mealtimes.
That, of course, was utter nonsense, as they installed their Wi and X-Box games, a foosball table, plus an amazing myriad of other kid-centric stuff into the erstwhile "man-cave" quicker than you can say, "hit the bricks, old man."
The things we do for love.
But fair enough. It's a big house.
The grandma-lady showed what a good sport she truly is when she agreed to celebrate Mothers' Day with a trip to Lou's, my favorite Peoria Drive Inn restaurant, thus giving me a chance to introduce the boys to the whole bot-to-be-missed experience of car hops, chili dogs and ice-cold root beer. From then, it was on to the zoo, where we wandered through a veritable wonderland of tigers, emus, rhinos and giraffes.
Not exactly up to the standards of the high tea I took her to a few years ago on her special day, I know.
But it's the things we do for love.
And she loved it.
Ordinary week days have changed, too, as I have transformed from a follower of a relaxed, robe-and-slippers-and-Charlie-Rose morning lifestyle into a breakfast-time short-order cook, homework-checker, shoe-finder and door-pusher-outer.
The things we do for love.
 But it's OK with me. Mornings are my best time anyway.
I've already whined about my trials as a freezing fan at early-season soccer.  I predicted I'd need to buy a cow, and our fridge and pantry are stocked with frozen waffles and pop tarts and colorful cereal boxes, instead of the grown-up stuff we used to buy. The park is now our main destination in the afternoons, and the movies I now watch before bedtime are likely to be both animated and G-rated.
The fact is, most of our nights have changed.
"Will you lie down with me, grandpa?"
Young John Patrick sleeps in a low, narrow bed that's just right for a six-year-old, but a little crowded for two. If they don't both cuddle in with their dad, it's usually the grandma-lady who gets the call from John, while I more often pile in with big brother Cyrus, who sleeps in a much bigger bed.
"Oh. All right," I said.
I figured I'd squeeze in and hope the little guy would fall asleep quick.
"Will you scratch my back, grandpa?"
"Oh brother," I thought.
I scratched for a minute or two, then gradually stopped. I slowly rolled onto my back and waited for him to settle down next to me. Quietly, in the bedroom darkness, I felt him turn toward me.
Without a word, he slid his warm little hand into mine.
Gently, sweetly, softly the little boy who lay next to me slipped into sleep.
The things we do for love.
Just for love.

1 comment:

  1. John, I'm reading this just after Iistened to the President's 9/11 monument tribute. This, and a dreadful cold means I have a big box of Kleenex close by. Good thing. This is a beautiful tribute in its own. those little guys have to be good medicine for you - akin to an ongoing "housecall" of holistic healing. And you and Megan are clearly a wonderful port in a storm for them. As always, a wonderful piece.