I woke up to an alarm clock yesterday for the first time in two weeks. For those two weeks I hadn't needed one. I woke up to my nine month old grandson babbling, or sometimes crying just a bit because I was a little too slow. But always, come 7:00 a.m., he was standing in his crib, just barely tall enough to peek over the edge, anxious to start the day and to see who was coming to get him.
For those two weeks I was the one who came. His pudgy arms would reach up, and a smile would take over his face. If not right away then just a bit later as we rested in the big bed together and practiced turning his "ba, ba, ba" babbles into a more interesting, "blah, blah, blah." Or while we practiced playing hide-n-seek, and he'd crawl off and hide behind the door, and I'd crawl up and find him, and he'd smile that open mouth smile or that closed mouth grin of pure delight at seeing me. And then squeal and take off again around the next corner. It was the same smile that I got every time I walked in the door after getting coffee from downstairs. He'd look up, smile, wiggle out of his mom's arms and come crawling, head down in some sort of instinctive aerodynamic pose to get him there quick.
It is a blessing that grandkids come at the very time when our own aging becomes more noticiable. When we find ourselves dealing with the loss of parents and friends and mobility, and the only climbing we do seems to be relegated to getting to the top branches of the family tree. When the two people who loved you first, and loved you most, are lost to time.
My own parents died several years ago within a span of 16 months. A few doors closed to me then--or at least they didn't beckon. The two people who could always be counted on to smile when I walked through wouldn't be there to tell me every time that it's been too long and that they were happy to see me no matter what.
I know that the smiles from my grandson aren't duplicates of the smiles from my parents--that those smiles are reserved for the ones we birthed. My grandson will grow up and all too soon find himself busy with legos, and soccer, and life. The day will come that he won't look up and won't see that I'm smiling on the other side.
For right now it doesn't seem cause for alarm. His smile woke me up.