A Good Day
It was a typical October day. With another chilly autumn breeze in the air it was once again too cool for just a long sleeve shirt or sweater so we reluctantly zipped up last year's fall jackets, the ones recently shaken out of our closets and headed out for a walk with the family.
It was my son, his boy Brayden my six year old grandson, his ever loving Gramma who doubles as my wife and our twelve year old dog Diva. Hard as we tried we couldn't deny the changing of the seasons and the knowledge that the autumn breeze would soon turn to winter winds and frost. But the time was at hand. Summer had too quickly passed. It was now or never. We would seize the day, take the training wheels off of Brayden's bike and finally teach him to ride on his own. We knew that all too soon spring would once again arrive on our doorstep and every kid in the neighborhood would pump up their tires and head down their driveways to the streets, and there was no way our Brayden would not be prepared to join the tradition.
I remember my own father running me up and down the street holding one handle grip and the back of my seat and yelling, "Just sit in the middle Bobby, don't lean, just try to keep your balance!" I echoed the same directions to Brayden's dad when he was a little guy and now the task was falling down the family tree once more, "Just sit in the middle Bray, don't lean, just try to keep your balance!" We ran him all the way over to the local school yard while we held on, then let go...then grabbed him before the crash, then letting him go again. When we finally got to the open spaces of the school yard his father launched him away with one big push and just let him go. "You're on your own Buddy! I'm not holding you! Keep peddling!" He was off, wiggling and wobbling, leaning and straightening, his dad holding his breath that his first solo flight wouldn't end with the sound of handle bars crashing into a basket ball net pole. No, this was the generation that would find a soft landing and the edge of a patch of the last beautiful green grass of summer. Then from that patch of green we all laughed when we saw an arm shoot up from beneath the little red bike, a thumbs up and in the distance the faintest echo of, "I'm OK!" What a kid!
We ran to him cheering and clapping which has always been the habit of our family. Every small challenge met, every tiny hurdle cleared, every fear overcome deserved an applause. As my son ran to him and shelled out giant hugs full of congratulations and pride we heard the strangest sound. A couple of hundred meters to our left coming from the back yard of a home that backed onto the school property, and just beyond the tall chain link fence there was a family standing out on their back deck cheering and clapping and celebrating along with us, Mom, Dad and all the kids. They must have understood completely. They must have felt as we did, It was the funniest and most surprising of moments. We could only imagine they heard cheering from their kitchen and ran outside to see what the commotion was about and realized that it was another milestone in a child's life that was just met.
Was it the old fashioned feeling of community that we felt from that neighboring yard or the evidence of the wet stains of pride on the face of Brayden's father that made that fleeting moment in a grandparent's life so special? These are the moments we live for, insignificant to a younger generation but gold to us. A young father is yet to realize that the tug on his heart was not in fact due the feeling of relief from the witness of a soft landing on a first launch. No, this was just the beginning of the tarring away that he will come to know as the years pass. It is the same with every son or daughter as they grow. It is sometimes well beyond the years of young adulthood before the final launch into true independence is realized.
But with our smart phones topped up now with a few choice pics and videos we headed back home. Our old dog panting and tired from trying to keep up with it all. Once home after watching Brayden diving with a fresh measure of confidence through the mountain of raked leaves in our yard, we settled in for a birch wood fire around our fire pit and a few of Gramma's choicest chocolate cookies. Then there it was, a sight I knew I would see if I took the time to notice, looking across the flames it was not the reflection of the fire I saw glimmering in Gramma's eyes. No, the eyes are the windows of the soul, and her's were whispering, "This has been a good day for our family."
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Robert M. Arrigo