Mornings with Liam

by Terrence Litwiller

Of all the benefits I’ve encountered since moving into “semi-retirement” earlier this year, the one I am most grateful for is my mornings at home with my now 20-month old grandson, Liam. My wife and I are blessed that for this time period he and his mom live here with us. He is the center of our lives and early in the mornings when everyone else still lays peacefully sleeping, I somehow through God’s grace am the center of his.

I’m always the first one up… I make coffee… do my morning prayers…read a little… and then I’m usually at my desk reviewing the morning news or checking email. From down the hall, his little voice carries its sweet sound to my desk, a sound that no matter what the early world news of the day has brought, immediately softens my heart, and on its own sometimes has brought tears to my eyes… “Paw Paw” …  I hear in a calling, wanting tone …“Paw Paw”….

It’s our special time together… our mornings… for here we build closeness.

We dance in the kitchen… he just loves to sit in my arms, so I sway and rock and comfort him with peaceful motion.

We sing… I learned the chorus part to “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman just so I could sing it to him while I carry him. “I dream of what the world could be…a vision of the one I see…”

We do chores… I hold him while we let the dog outside and water the tomatoes on the patio.

We make breakfast… usually I make it for him, but on special occasions we make it together. Just this past week he helped stir the pancake mix (while he sat in my arms – always)… and he watched as I cracked the eggs for him and mixed them in the pan.

In my heart, as a grandpa now, I didn’t want the rushed activities of normal life to always be his first impression of the new day… first, I want him to know safety, love, compassion, patience, attention. So we find it together.

I tell him it’s going to be a great day… that today we will live in peace, with gratitude and significance…that today we will make a difference. I’m a realist, and I know that not every day will be as lovely as all that. But those life lessons can come later. For now… we dance…

It occurred to me very recently that despite the deep significance of our special mornings, the reality is that Liam will never remember them. He is only twenty months old… these special moments won’t be memories, that’s just not the way it works. When I first realized this it initially made me very sad. And it got me thinking then about how and why we do certain things in life – how it’s not at all about long term tangible gain, or what we selfishly get out of it in the end. Sometimes we just need to live for the moment – capture whatever small slice of time that God has blessed us with and make it everything it can possibly be. Sometimes we need to leave the iPhone in the other room, skip the photo-op for Facebook… sometimes we just need to soak it in and let it happen… to give the experience at that very moment every single bit of our attention, focus and admiration. Too soon the moment will be gone.

My biggest fear is that there may come a time down the road, near or far, when I myself won’t remember these special mornings with Liam either. My memory isn’t that great, and I’m getting older now… and I acknowledge that so many of the small things from raising my own kids all those years ago is gone. It’s safe to assume that someday these will be gone as well. So, I will cherish each morning with Liam as a special gift, grateful for the moment that comes and goes so quickly. I will dance, and sing, and encourage and teach… and know that even though the visual memories of these mornings may someday be exhausted, that the feelings they leave behind, the closeness they help build, and the bonds they help secure will be part of my legacy.

I sometimes wonder if that will be a gift we get in heaven – a fresh, vivid recounting of all those special moments we had with our kids, grandkids… loved ones… even strangers. Those moments we shared and gave, times that we healed and inspired, those decisions and moments where we made a difference – times we swore we’d never forget but that somehow drifted away. To have those back in our minds eye and heart would be the greatest gift a forgetful parent, friend and grandparent could ever receive.

So as long as they last, these mornings with Liam are God’s gift to me for which I am tearfully grateful… and in the very best way I know how I will continue to make them my gift to my amazing grandson.

To  Liam – My Bubby…  Thank you for your sweet kindness, for laying your head on my shoulder, for your unconditional adoration… always right here by your side.

With Love,

Paw Paw

Category: Featured, Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student