Most of you probably saw the picture and description of the Memory Bear that I posted on Facebook. If you did, skip the next paragraph ...
Volunteers from the hospice where Grampa spent his last days made what they call a "Memory Bear" for us. We gave them a couple of pieces of clothing that belonged to Grampa and they made teddy bears out of them. They made two - one for Aiden and one for Matthew, Rosanna's son. The one we got is made from Grampa's old orange fleece jacket. I love it. It's so Grampa.
The day we got it, Aiden was out in the driveway playing with some of the neighbor kids. I brought out the bear to show the kids and they thought it was wonderful. They all wanted to hold it and hug it. I thought it was a really neat way for them to remember Grampa.
And then they went about their games and I had a fabulous time watching them. There were four or five hanging around and they had this pogo stick and were timing each other to see who could stay up bouncing the longest. Then they got two pogo sticks and took turns going head to head with each other. The rest of us sat around on Grampa's swing, pretending to be Pogo-stick Olympic Judges ( or in Aiden's case, wandering around the cul-de-sac with a soccer ball). It was weird; I felt like I was one of them.
And then I thought, "Grampa should be here." And I really missed him in a way that I hadn't experienced before. This was a situation when, if he was in the house, I would have run down to tell him to come outside... because he loved this kind of thing. Just hanging out with the kids. He lived for it. If there was a cold or rainy spell, or the kids had too much homework to play outside and several days would pass without him seeing them, he'd start to get agitated and upset. If it was a nice day out, he was always hopeful that "this will bring them outside!" And as I sat there, feeling like a kid myself, I realized in a new way that was part of why Grampa enjoyed children so much - because they made him feel young. I guess I always sort of knew that, but living it myself made me know it in a new way. It made me think of how Grampa used to talk about why kids are so great. I'm putting what he would say into my own words: Kids are just real. You don't have to pretend to be anything other than who you really are with them. They talk about totally random, irrelevant things, they have no big responsibilities, they are uncomplicated, there are no hidden agendas or schemes to manipulate you ( at least, not with THESE kids...I know that's not true with all kids). It made me smile as I thought of what Grampa taught me by example; like Jesus, he knew that kids are important... and worthy of attention and investment.