Here’s the song reference.
As is our custom on Sundays, we spent the afternoon over at Nonno and Deedaw’s house. Somewhat uncharacteristically for Virginia, the afternoon was warm and golden, with temperatures high enough for the tiny people to gad about in short sleeves.
Once we had exchanged greetings with Nonno, Deedaw, Nephew, Frank and Megan (Manie’s brother and his lady friend), the midget mob began agitating to be allowed to play out in the spacious back yard. Since it seemed almost blasphemous to disallow them the pleasure of enjoying the blessing of a springlike autumn afternoon, we adults did a quick shoe check and then dispatched the lot of them into the fresh air and sunshine. As Nonno was resting, Frank was working on a project, and Deedaw, Megan, and I were busy with household tasks, Manie was nominated as the safety patrol officer.
Baby Guy decided to stay inside for a while, and delighted Nonno with his exploration of the toy bins in the family room and his grinning, chortling toddler babble. Eventually, though, the littlest member of the tribe decided that he missed having playmates, and meandered over to the back door in search of his siblings and cousin. I paused to open the door for him and notify Manie of his entry into the afternoon melee, then returned to cleaning a head of cauliflower.
A few moments later, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and looked to see which little blessing had come in looking for a drink. Much to my surprise, I saw the motion in question had come from Nonno, who had decided that his grandchildren were far more interesting than the afternoon’s football offerings (particularly after what the Ravens did to the Raiders), and that he would therefore prefer to enjoy a little fresh air and sunshine himself. Megan had caught the same movement from where she had been working, and the two of us fussed over him as he descended the steps onto the patio, in spite of his assurances that he was fine and did not require our assistance.
Off into the madding midget crowd went Nonno, perhaps a little shorter and thinner than he was when I first met him almost a decade ago, with his head slightly shinier, but still with the same smile in the presence of grandchildren I first saw gracing his entire face the first time I saw him playing with Niece, who was a wee girl of three and a half at the time. It is the smile of a man who rejoices in what the Lord has sent, and one that encompasses every part of his face, not just his lips. There are days when the tribe is particularly trying that I call that smile to mind, as a reminder of how deeply and madly grateful we are for our quiver full of arrows.
I watched through the kitchen window for a moment as he kicked a soccer ball for one child, guided another gently towards the playset, pointed out to Manie that the swing needed to be moved to a higher branch of the big magnolia, then fetched Deedaw from the laundry room, whispering, “No, really, you need to look outside. This is way better than laundry.”
As she neared the door and saw Nonno, head glowing in the afternoon sun, face aglow with the joy of being surrounded by rowdy little kids, she smiled gently and shook her head. After giving me a quick nugget of cauliflower advice, she leaned on the back of a nearby chair for a moment, watching the mayhem unfold in the yard, with Nonno bobbing through it like a balding rubber duck in a wave pool. She remarked that he’s happier when he has kids and sunshine around, and that the combination of the two put more color in his cheeks, before she headed back to the dryer. Her smile was a little brighter, too, and played about the corners of her lips a little longer.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for blessing us with Nonno and Deedaw, and for blessing them with length of years. You have made them like trees by a river, who prosper all those who spring from their branches. Grant us the grace of many days in their company for us and for Your little blessings, that we may be instructed by their example of faithfulness to each other and to You, and thank You for the gift of allowing us to love and serve them as their autumn and winter approach.