Saturday, September 9, 2023

Time, Love and Beautiful Hugs

 Time, Love and Beautiful Hugs

This story was not planned; this is a continuation of the previous story, Emotions. I’m not sure if I have ever had a story to follow another story, but here it is. 

After the exploration of emotions in the last story, I was not sure if I was ready for another adventure so quickly. My youngest daughter had decided that she and my three grandchildren were coming to the lake house for the weekend.

I arrived on Friday as usual, unpacked, and soon learned that my daughter was just minutes behind me. I was already exhausted from the week’s work and was unsure of how engaged I would be. I had not made that commitment yet. Much of my exhaustion had come from the previous weekend of emotional engagement with my oldest daughter’s children. 

What was I going to do? Some comfort came in knowing I had a therapy session scheduled for Monday. I was still very drained but willing to give it a go. 

They arrived, and we decided to get takeout at a local sub shop. Lisa and I went to pick up the order with two of our grandchildren; my daughter stayed at the house to take care of the baby. When they arrived, we greeted each other as usual with a very light hug, an almost side hug of sorts. That has been the norm for the entirety of our relationship, never much emotion, engagement, or connection. It’s really not them but the amount that I was willing and able to give; it was truly all I could give. 

I felt my heart was changing. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but things seemed different. Did last weekend have such a profound effect on my innermost being that changes were still continuing? I think so.

I was cautious and not sure that opening the door on these new emotions was such a great idea. The therapist had recommended cracking the door to see what pain or fear might be in that room of emotions. I wondered if it would turn into another emotional withdraw as it had for so many years. 

We talked as we drove to pick up the food, and as usual, it was just surface talk and nothing really engaging; I was happy with that at the moment. 

On Saturday, the boys arose and said, “What’s the plan?” To my surprise, they were ready for a day at the lake, and I was refreshed and ready to engage. We ate breakfast, and the plan was to hit the lake wide open, no matter what. I was ready to put forth an unconditional effort to show the boys that I love them, not by what I could buy them, but what mattered the most, time. Lisa kept telling me, “All they want is time,” and time is all I have.

So now, this is a week later and I’m back to finish the story. When I write a story, I usually sit down and write what has played out in my mind for weeks or for months on end. This story has brought up so many emotions that I had to take a break. I know this is an unusual writing style, but I always want the reader to be here in this moment with me. 

The boys wanted to go out on the boat, so we left the baby with Lisa. My daughter put on their life vests, and we headed out into the deep water where we could dive; the water is shallow at the dock. There was so much excitement in the boat; I was excited as well. I asked my daughter if she wanted to get a ski ride in because the water was smooth, and her answer was a quick, “Yes!” The boys enjoyed watching their mom rip it up, just like back in the day. Growing up, we spent most of our spare time on the water, and this is the very lake that I taught both my daughters how to slalom ski. 

I was getting emotional watching her ski and so many memories were coming back. After she got back in the boat, we joked about the falls, the injuries, and the soreness that would come in the morning. Such a wonderful moment to go back in time. 

The boys were getting restless and were ready to enjoy the water. The oldest is now twelve, his brother is eight-years-old, and the baby is a few months old.

I jumped in and they asked, “Can you touch? Can you touch?” I told them it was too deep; it was only about seven-feet deep. The youngest put his mask on, got on the boat platform, and looked down into the depths and said, “It’s ok.” 

They jumped off the platform, climbing in and out of the boat. In years past, I would have sat in the boat or on the side of the boat, just watching and observing, being careful with my involvement. Today, I was in the water with them, climbing in and out as much as they were, and jumping and diving. My oldest grandson asked, "Can you watch me dive and tell me how to do that?” 

My heart sank. Time, I thought, that’s all, just time. That’s where we were, on lake time. I gave a demonstration and then he tried his dive. “Perfect.” I said. “Let’s do it again.” We dove again and again. He was already an excellent diver; I was helping him with some pointers. My daughter asked me who taught me how to dive. With sadness, I said, “I don’t know.” 

Sitting here writing this today, I’m looking out over this beautiful place with tears in my eyes, wishing they were here right now; it’s so breathtaking. 

The youngest was doing some interesting and funny dives; he was making up dives he called the fish, the alligator, and some hilarious slides off the platform. He made me laugh. I was cracking the door and looking in these rooms of emotions and found that it was okay. It was okay to let myself experience these times, happy or sad; they were good. 

We had to head back in as the sun was setting, and we were all hungry. They kept saying, “Just one more jump, just one more dive.” We were having fun, and that’s all that mattered. I wondered what the night would hold, how I would sleep, and if there would be a rush of emotions that I wasn’t ready for in the dark of the night. Deep in my soul lies that child who has no memory, no emotions, and no love; these developmental years are missing. These children are teaching me these foundational truths, and they all start with time and that equals love. Time is love!

It’s never too late to start. I’m here to say that, and maybe that’s what this story is about. My oldest grandchild is twelve now, and it’s not too late; I will explain why shortly. 

Most of my family has been understanding with me over the years. My therapist has helped me gain new perspectives on my complex emotions and lack of development during my foundational years.

There are some in the family who don’t understand and that’s okay. They never had the struggles I’ve had. With that being said, every person alive has a struggle; we as individuals filter them out so no one else sees them. I know they are there; they are seen, and they will probably go to the grave with most. 

Later that evening, my wife and daughter were doing a puzzle; they love those things. Me, not so much. I have a hard enough time putting my pieces together! 

I was walking through the kitchen and just threw out a statement like, “Making progress; I’m making progress.” My youngest daughter doesn’t miss much, and as always, didn’t miss that either. 

“What are you talking about, Daddy?” 

“Well, I’m cracking doors and looking in, engaging and loving, and giving time unconditional.” I cried as I realized my heart was full, full of love of the time we all gave the boys that day. It’s not about what you have, but about what you have to give. All they want is time. It was no longer about me but me giving time and giving love. 

The next morning, we all got up and hit the water again, same as the day before but elevated to a new level. The oldest wanted to ski, so he got going. As my daughter was watching him, I could see her giving him instructions just like I did her back in the day. I cried, thinking that all I needed to give them was love and time. The youngest was cheering his brother on; he was so excited. When the boat stopped, he wanted to jump in again and again. I was all in at this point. We all dove and enjoyed the water, but it was time to go. One more dive, one more pencil dive, one more jump—this went on for a long time. 

We climbed back onto the boat dock. Then the boys jumped out of the boat, only to jump off the dock again and again with their goggles on, searching for treasures. My wife and daughter told me they were heading to town to do some shopping, and the youngest said he was going with them. The oldest asked me if we could take the canoe out for a ride. I agreed, but in my mind, I was wondering what we were going to talk about. What was this going to look like? We have never spent much time alone. We got in the canoe, and I told him we could fish around the docks. We took one fishing pole and one worm; you can see I had a great deal of confidence in our catching ability. We pushed off the dock, and we both paddled to the next dock; he cast over in the distance, under the dock, over the dock, and we still weren’t catching any fish. 

I told him we would go out into the deep water and see if there were any fish out there. A beautiful light wind was blowing. He cast behind the boat, and we let the wind push us. Then the fish started to bite; we caught a couple and were excited. At one point, I lost my balance, and I fell out of the canoe. We laughed so hard. We walked back to the dock and got back in, soaking wet. I was a proud grandfather. What a great memory we created. We headed back out and took more worms with us, but the fish were just too small to catch. My daughter and wife returned, and my grandson screamed out that we had caught some fish. We went back to the dock and told the story of the mishap, and we all laughed. Cracking that door wasn’t easy, but it’s all about time and doing things they enjoy doing. Time is love, and love needs time. No matter the foundation issues early in my life, it’s never too late and my experiences with my grandchildren are proof of that. 

As they were getting ready to go back home, the oldest came up to me and gave me the best hug I’ve ever had; the youngest did the same. They were the most embracing hugs I’ve ever had. Not just one hug, but many full on beautiful, loving hugs, meant to tell me thank you for the time and thank you for the love I shared; I know it was hard, but it’s okay. 

I came back in the house and cried as they pulled away. The moments with my grandchildren made me feel loved and blessed. As I watched the sun go down that evening, I relived every moment in reverse, wishing they were still there. The house has been quiet this weekend, but I know in the future it will be full of time, love, and beautiful hugs.



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