I asked him what his plans were for the next day. I was wondering who was important to him, or what were some things that he was anxious to do. He surprised me by asking what I was going to do. I told him that I was thinking of going to La Sal to visit my mother, his great-grandmother. I asked if he wanted to go. Again, he surprised me by saying that he would.
My feelings of surprise at his answers were, I suppose, because I didn’t expect that he would want to spend time with me, seeing as how I am an old guy and he is so young. Frankly, I am flattered.
I picked him up early. We had a most enjoyable time driving to La Sal. We chatted most of the way in Spanish, a language with which he has become completely comfortable. I knew he would become a proficient speaker of Spanish because of his musical ability. There is a strong relationship between speaking another language properly and having an ear for music.
Later, when I dropped him off at his home, he said that if I wanted to go hiking or anything that he would like to go with me. Yet another surprise, but it pleases me greatly that he wants to hang out with me.
A couple of years ago I spent an entire day with an 18-year-old granddaughter because she wanted me to take her out into my beloved canyons. She is beautiful; she is articulate; she sings with a passion that brings tears to my eyes. I can’t help but be amazed that she would want to spend a day with me.
A couple of weeks ago, Barbara and I were in South Jordan, visiting with our children. Mike took me to the new Scheels store.
We went inside the store and up to the second level. We were walking toward the guns when we met someone who didn’t break eye contact as quickly as strangers do. I thought that she looked vaguely familiar. She must have thought so, too.
The next thing I knew, she had looped around a display and was in front of us again and looking pointedly at me. I said, “You look familiar to me.” She said, “Uncle Oliver? It’s April!” and rushed into my arms.
I hadn’t seen April in more than 25 years, since she was a teenager. In the next few minutes, as we visited and exchanged phone numbers, I got four hugs and a kiss. She introduced me to her husband who looked on patiently, and with a bit of bemusement, as we got caught up. April isn’t technically my niece. Rather, she is the daughter of one of Barbara’s cousins, but our families were close when the children were young.
I‘m not sure that I can adequately express how it feels to be loved by these young people. To me it means that I have avoided giving them reason to fear me or to shy away or want to avoid me.
A while back, I was introduced to a new granddaughter-in-law. I gave her a hug and immediately sensed that she was not comfortable. I was embarrassed because I knew better. She has cautiously warmed up to my son, her father-in-law. I look forward to the day that she trusts me. Until then we will just shake hands, but only if she makes the first move.