Since Jody got sick in November, 2013, I haven’t had kids in my life. During the years that I taught blind children, I got to know and love many of the child’s classmates. We had some great discussions – 1-1 and in groups. Long ago, I’d visit my nieces and nephew through my marriage to Rita and we’d be silly. More recently, it’s been fun with my nephews through my marriage to Jody. But not much contact with children for the last two years.
But then – as in Monday – Rita’s husband Dave arrived on the train from Edmonton, with his son Rocky and his granddaughters Hannah and Josie. They’re elementary school-aged kids. Off the train they bounced (even after 24 hours of travel) and gave Grandma Rita big hugs. I’m standing in the background watching. Then I was introduced. I stepped forward and shook their unsure hands.
We crammed into Rita’s car. Dave, Josie, Hannah and I were wedged together in the back. As we cruised the Vancouver streets, Dave turned into a tour guide, showing the kids this and that. They were tired but looked like they were enjoying grandpa’s enthusiastic descriptions. Hannah kept mentioning that she wanted to go to a restaurant like the cool pork ribs place back home. I just loved being there with everyone. It felt like family, even though I’m not officially a member of Rita’s family anymore.
At one point, I said to Hannah, “I hear you’re an artist.” She smiled a wee smile. “You did a drawing of Rita and Dave for their wedding. I liked it.” Smile a mite bigger. The framed black-on-white line drawing hangs proudly on the wall.
Then we were home. After a bit of hustle and some bustle of the house tour type, we were all in the kitchen. I thought “Why not? I know I’m out of season but give it a go.”
“Do you girls like the poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’? Or is it a so-so?”
Bruce: “I’ve learned to say it in a special way. May I recite the poem to you?”
Josie and Hannah: “Okay.”
And I was off, attempting the land speed record for reciting “Twas” really fast. Eyes widened. Mouths curled up, especially Josie’s. I got lost halfway through and paused for effect, but soon I was pouring out the syllables again. I finished with a flourish, arms in the air. Enthusiastic applause greeted me from all sides. It’s such a fun way to make kids happy. The adults didn’t seem to mind either.
I wonder if I’ll meet other kids on this road trip. I hope so.