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Just Three Words

Story ID:9124
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
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Just Three Words

Ginny and I helped, as much as my old body would allow, our daughter Heather and
family get ready for a big move. They are off to California for a year. Our son-in-law,
Nathan, is going to complete his final year for his divinity degree and become a
pastor. They will be gone for ten months.

It was hard to say goodbye to them. It hurt to watch them drive away.

It reminded me of a time in 2005. They left us in New Jersey to move to
Idaho. Who knew we'd end up here too?

Today I give you a story I wrote about that moment in 2005

Just Three Words

July 1, 2005, I met my three grandchildren and my stepdaughter, Heather, for the
first time. She had marital problems. Ginny and I were there to bring them back to New
Jersey to live with us.

Ginny and I walked through the airport in Oklahoma. "There they are!" she said.

"Where," I looked around.

"There!" Ginny pointed.

I saw a beautiful young lady and two boys - ages three and five - the oldest two.
They stared at me. Heather and Ginny hugged. Ginny turned to the boys and opened her
arms, "Joshie! Seth Man! I missed you!"

They ran into her arms. It’d been a year since they'd seen their Gingin. Her hugs
were needed. Grandmother hugs are the best. Ginny stood. Heather and the boys stared at
me – the unknown grandpa.

Heather was polite, but I could sense the doubt. Who was this man? I would have
to convince her, I wasn't replacing her dad. Her dad was in Heaven. I was just a man
who loved her mom.

Joshie and Seth were too shy to look at me. They stood side-by-side, their eyes passing from Ginny and Heather, with only quick glances in my direction. Their eyes
asked, "Is that our new Poppa?"

We shared hugs and went back to their house. There, I met Benny and his other
grandma - Sonja. Benny was the youngest of the three and even more afraid of me.

The next day, the older boys were doing flips over my lap and laughing. Benny
hugged Sonja, still scared of me. The following day, we packed the kids in the car and
headed for New Jersey.

My life changed. My house had been full of breakable and memorable things. In a
few weeks they were gone. I hid them in closets and drawers. Our bedroom became a
storage area. There are only so many times you can tell a child not to touch something,
before you realize they can't help it.
I packed it all away!

Ginny and I used to spend time talking or reading, when I came home from work,
but with the grandkids there, we were interrupted.

It was a new life.

The quiet times were gone.

A year later, Heather and the boys were on a new adventure. The boys were off to
visit their dad in Oklahoma and would join their mom in Idaho a few months later. Our
house would be empty.

We’d have our life again.

I woke at 5 AM to see them off on their trip to see their dad. Their bags were
packed and loaded in the car. We grabbed the last of their stuff, clamored down the steps,
and opened the car doors.

Benny and Seth jumped in, excited about the trip and seeing their dad. I gave
them the best hugs I could, considering they were in such a hurry. Tears formed in my
eyes. They'd been a thorn in my side, but I'd grown used to those thorns.

I buckled Benny in his car seat, stood and heard a faint voice heard, "Poppa

I turned toward the voice. Josh stood beside the car and stared at me. He’d snuck
around the back of the car. “Yes, Josh?”

“I love you.”

"I love you too, Joshie," I said. Big tears began to roll down my cheeks. "I love
you too, buddy. I'll miss you. Be a good boy for your daddy."

The car pulled away. I went into the house and looked around. There were a few
small toys scattered about. A plastic block lay in a corner. In the kitchen, a pack of
Crayons was half spilled on the table. Behind the sofa was a cart full of Leggos©.

My house was almost bare of their toys, My house was full of memories.

A few days later, I sat in the living room and noticed the scratch marks on my
teak coffee table. They were the marks from a "Bob the Builder" plastic saw. When I
first saw those marks, I was so angry, I stomped out of the house and took a long
walk to cool my temper.

I thought of all the breakables hidden in closets. Memories of a broken lamp,
stomping feet, yelling, screaming, crying, interrupted conversations, spilled drinks and
sprayed food flashed through my mind. It had been a rough year for me. I struggled to
adjust to young kids in the house.

A little boy walked around the back of the car and said, "I love you!"
The stress, cries, scratches on tables, stains in carpets, tablecloths cut with
scissors, screams, nicks, marks, and broken furniture were forgiven.

Josh, the one who was the most troublesome, made it right. He was the middle
child, struggling to be acknowledged before his brothers.

He said three words.

That's all it took, just three powerful words: I LOVE YOU!

Michael T. Smith

In the picture, Josh is wearing a ball cap. He as high as my chin now.