Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Something heartwarming happened the other day that I wanted to record and share so that I did not forget, but also because I think there is something wonderful in this event, though I am not quite sure how to describe it. I will try to explain it without cheapening anything.

We had a small birthday party for my son Elijah who just turned two. It was intended that we were not to make a huge deal about his birthday because he was only turning two, and although made aware that it was his birthday, he himself would have been just as excited had we told him it was anyone else’s birthday. So Brandi invited “only family” to the party in order to keep it small, but she is from a Portuguese family and inevitably if you are throwing a party, and provide good food, there will be nearly 50 people there even with some absent. So we had a small party for my son, who turned two.

I wish to explain also that I love birthdays, especially my own, but other’s as well. I love them because they are at their core a celebration of life. Whenever I pray at a birthday party now, I always thank God for the person whose birthday it is, and for all of us. It is a wonderful opportunity to praise him for the miracle of birth. This day was for Eli, but it was not him alone who I was thankful for that day.

Elijah was busy as we set up for the party as most two-year-olds are. He was excited to be at his Grandma’s house because she has a lot of dogs, a lot of things to play with, and children simply enjoy a change of scenery. A few people arrived on time, and among them was Brandi’s father who brought with him his wife and also Brandi’s grandparents.

My children are blessed enough to have seven of eight great-grandparents still alive, and three of them were at his party. Now grandpa and grandma Tavares are now in their eighties and as people at that age often are, they are a bit slower than they used to be, in fact recently Grandpa has begun to sit in a wheel chair as walking has become too strenuous. So once they arrived, Grandpa was pushed up to the end of one of the tables.

Immediately some people waited on him as some chips with dip were brought out and some lemonade as well. Now up to this point, Elijah had been acting a bit shy. Whenever there are a lot of people coming around, children get a bit shy, but my son overcame his initial reclusivness as soon as food arrived. He sat himself next to Grandpa Tavares and began to snack on chips with him.

I was seated at a table parallel to their’s and sensed that I ought to pay attention to the pair for no other reason than to observe. Both Grandpa and Eli were given a plate with chips and a cup of lemonade. The bowl with dip was moved to their end of the table and they were pleasantly munching away on the salty snack. After making sure that neither needed anything, everyone else went into the house leaving Grandpa and his great-grandson to snack together.

I cannot say that the pair was even aware of me though I made to effort to hide, only to not disturb the scene. It was simple but made me smile to watch the patriarch of the family dine with one of his many children. They both ate some chips with Grandpa coaching Elijah when he got too much dip or some dripped on the table. I smiled as I observed an example of the natural progression of raising a family before me.

Then Elijah, thirsty from the chips, drank all of his lemonade. When he finished he checked his cup to ensure that he had in fact finished, and upon confirming that there was indeed no more drink in his cup he held it up to Grandpa and asked him for more. I nearly stood up worried that because Grandpa was confined to the chair that I would have to get my son some more, but Grandpa proved generous and resourceful. He took Eli’s cup from him and preceded to gingerly poor some from his own cup into the young boy’s. When satisfied that Elijah had enough he gently placed the cup back on the table, Elijah thanked him in the sweet and pure way that children do, and sipped his cup once more.

It was a subtle and perhaps unimportant exchange to most people, but to me it was beautiful. I watched as a man in his eighties, having done so much throughout his life, enjoy a personal moment with his great-grandson. In that instant my mind flashed to Abraham and I was reminded of what is important in life.

When I am old and nearing the return to my father, I do not pray for fame or fortune, but family. That is all I want. Family. It is so much more important than the rest. Fame fades, fortunes are spent, but family grows. Grandpa and Grandma have six children (one has preceded them home), fifteen or so grandchildren, and another seventeen odd great-grandchildren. That is priceless. No one can take away the legacy that they have left because it is not something that can be forgotten or lost; it is living and breathing in the people who look to them as father and mother. That is my ultimate goal. To be Grandpa, sitting at the table and pouring lemonade for my children. Nothing else seems superior in comparison.

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