Yesterday (Saturday) was a day of celebration. Our daughter-in-law was granted her PhD., an earned designation given to few. As is customary for us, we and other invited family and friends gathered for a good time, hosted by our son and daughter-in-law. Given that there were far too many people to be accommodated in their yard, it was held in a local park. My wife and I were also hosting special friends for the weekend and we took them along. It had been a long time since they had seen our son and his family.
My buddy and I chose to set-up our chairs back about 100 feet from the pavilion where we had a good view of all that was occurring. Our ladies, on the other hand, decided to sit at a bench under the pavilion cover in the midst of all of the gathering commotion. An uncle of our daughter-in-law soon parked his family’s chairs near us and said with a smile, “This must be where the old folks sit.” “Yep,” I spoke and nodded an affirmation. Soon, there were a line of chairs occupied primarily by the age 60+ crowd where we could see all the action.
For the 2 ½ hours we were there, in addition to being greeted by our son, his wife, and our grandchildren, I greeted or was greeted by many who I hadn’t seen in months and, in some cases, years: other members of my daughter-in-law’s family, several of our nieces and nephews and any of their family members who had come, along with friends of my son and daughter-in-law, some of whom I first met when they were all in college.
Most striking to me was viewing the impact of the creep of time evident from surveying the crowd. There were toddlers parented by people I had never met. The group of high school and college age kids, including two of my three grandchildren, playing Uno had, not too long ago, been those toddlers. Our son and daughter-in-law had been high school sweethearts which is when we first met her and her parents who were then middle aged as my wife and I were. They, like us, once paid the college bills. Now, our children and many of their cousins and friends are or will soon be footing college bills. They are the middle-aged crowd. And I and my wife and our friends and our daughter-in-law’s parents, uncles and aunts are now the senior crowd who sit back watching and enjoying the scene of the different generations.
If I didn’t have the hope that I have, that could have been depressing. It wasn’t at all for me. I know that my “earthly tent” is fraying. I can feel it in my lower back when I’ve been sitting too long or when I’ve had to stand for a long time. One look at my medicine cabinet at the drug prescriptions I take daily tells its own story. If someone is moving, I can carry a few boxes, but my days of helping to carry sofas and bureaus up flights of stairs are over. Although it hasn’t caught-up yet, I know that each day I walk in the “valley of the shadow of death,” and that one day it will no longer be just a shadow but a reality. I’m in no rush, but only GOD knows the number of my days (Psalm 39:4).
The days of being the dad who changes diapers, rocks them back to sleep in the early morning hours, wipes dirty noses, lays out clothes for Sunday School, helps with homework, says, “Go to bed,” goes to parent-teacher conferences, band concerts, dance recitals, gymnastic, soccer and lacrosse games, sets curfews, attends school graduations, makes trips back and forth to college campuses, and who offers coaching on getting that first job are over. I’m now the granddad who does that…or at least some of it, as it should be…until.
Until…and while I walk through this valley, I am content and comforted that surely, goodness and mercy is following me and will follow me all the way.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2021. All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.