A Gift from My Granddaughter

My wife and I were babysitting two of our grandchildren for the weekend. On Saturday afternoon I was keeping my grandson company, lounging next to him on the couch with my legs up on a hassock as he watched his favorite television program.

It’s his sister I want to talk about. My granddaughter is 22 months old, but I (the proud grandfather) believe she’s mature beyond her age. Indeed, the family believes she’s already speaking in sentences—she talks all the time—although no one can understand so far what she’s saying.

She was not interested in her brother’s television program, but I noticed she seemed to want to be near me, even to be in physical contact with me. She climbed back and forth over my legs. She climbed up on the couch beside me and leaned against my shoulder. She touched my glasses gently and smiled into my face. Then she slid back down to the floor and stood there, gazing at my face; when I returned the look, she gave me a smile.

It seemed to me that my granddaughter was showing me nonverbally that I was important to her. Certainly she wanted my attention—as I was giving her brother attention and companionship—but above that I felt her affection and trust. Then it came to me: this is intimacy! Without words, my granddaughter was giving me the gift of intimacy.

In that moment, I was aware of another gift. God had given me the gift of awareness. For most of my life intimacy meant sex; any other intimacy I shied away from or numbed out. Now I was struck with wonder and gratitude that I could register human intimacy.

I would like to be able to report that I responded to the gift by hugging my granddaughter and telling her how much I love her. In retrospect, that’s the ideal response I would choose. But the truth is that I did not respond; I remained seated as before. You see, I still have some of the love cripple in me. I do not always respond spontaneously and appropriately in emotional situations. I trudge the road with a bit of a limp.

But I have no regrets. I’m grateful for progress made. I have the rest of my life to show my granddaughter how much I love her.

Art B., Macon, Georgia

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