It was something akin to lopping 30 years off our ages. For the weekend (or at least for part of it), my wife and I watched over two grandchildren. The inventive playing, in which a few chairs and a few blankets can be a fort, the discussions of dinner and snacks, the reading of books at bedtime, the tucking in, the resounding quiet after they fell asleep all carried me back to the time when these two's mother and her two siblings kept our household in high gear.
On Sunday afternoon, we delivered the grandchildren to their home and hung around for a Christmas program at their church. This event carried me back even further, to the time when I was the preschooler on stage for a children's program. In my infantile mind, I was not persuaded that my voice was needed on the songs, so I attempted a child's version of lip-syncing as the other children sang, and my fakery was so inept that I merely opened and closed my mouth, as if taking big bites from the air. I even tried to get the boy next to me to follow my lead. Punishment fed by embarrassment awaited me when I got home.
I'm happy to say my grandchildren were much better behaved than I had been in that memorable church program. Although this day and night of reliving what it means to be parents brought back memories of what our lives were like decades ago, the experience did not revive my energy or wipe the years from my face and scalp. The years pile up without notice until some event registers the toll. You can recapture the memories or make them more vivid, but you cannot recover the years or correct the mistakes.
The grandchildren, who are the bonuses of a long life, help their grandparents keep alive the memories of all the good years of their own childhoods, the joys (and awesome responsibilities) of raising young children, and the satisfaction of seeing your own children mature and build lives of their own.
As Bob Hope would say, "Thanks for the memories."