In June of last year, my husband and I loaded up the children and headed to Nolin Lake. We were to meet my Dad, Stepmom, Stepbrother, Stepsister, and their families for a camping trip. They live in the area, but for us it is an hour and a half trip each way. We left early in the morning so we could spend a good part of the day with them, because we would not be staying over night. Connor had just turned 2 a few weeks before and his behavior and communication abilities were, to put it mildly, straining.
The campsite was in a patch of tall pine trees and just where the trees thinned out was a man-made beach, so the ground around the tents was covered in sand and dry pine needles with little patches of grass. Connor must have thought it was heaven. He would run around grabbing handfuls of needles and sand, to either throw it, put it in his mouth, or sit and poke at it with sticks he collected. He would run into other campsites and almost straight through camp fires.
My husband and I were both on high alert, but trying to stay calm in order to reap a little enjoyment from visiting with family. My Dad was glad to hang out with me while the rest went swimming, not being one to show off his sexy white legs (more comfortable in blue jeans). He would try to engage Connor in play but was being totally ignored. "Hey, Connor." No response. "Connor." Still nothing.
"Dortha, can he hear?" He was concerned about Connor, but I could tell a little afraid to meddle at the same time.
"I think so Dad, because he can hear Elmo all the way from the kitchen. We have a test to find out coming up soon." I shrugged and gave him a smile, letting him know that all his questions and concerns were more than welcomed.
Every time he has called or we have visited together since he will ask "So hows Connor doing?" and I immediately fill him in on any and all developments since the last time we talked, like him asking that small question has opened a flood gate. If he doesn't have a lot of time he will simply ask "How are the kids?" to which I reply which a much more simplified answer.
This past Friday he called to say he was in town having come along with my Stepmom, who had a class in adult education for her job. He was on his way to see me and Connor (the girls were in school) and would be here shortly. The house was a wreck as usual and I zoomed through as quickly as possible making everything look "good enough".
He arrived even sooner than I could have imagined. I have always been a "Daddy's little girl" and when I see him I can't help but smile. He always wears the same type shirt, button up with sleeves that come just above the elbow and a front pocket, along with the same type of jeans or dress pants if it's Sunday. The cologne he wears is one I would recognize anywhere and I love the smell of it, it smells like Dad.
When he comes in Connor doesn't greet him at the door with me and so we hunt to find which bedroom he has ran off to. He is in my room jumping on my bed and when he sees his Grandpa just lays down and looks at him. Dad tries to make conversation with him and I guess was asking questions that my niece, born just a couple of hours after Connor, would have been able to answer. I can tell he doesn't know what to do or how to act around his Grandson so I ask if he would like to have a cup of coffee. We sit in the kitchen and drink coffee and talk.
We soon hear this shrill little voice from down the hall "Hey, where are you!"
Dad's eyes bulge out at me as he is sure it couldn't be the same little boy he just tried to talk to.
"Hey, where are you!"
"I'm in the kitchen. Where are you?" Dad booms back.
A little heads peeks around the refrigerator at us and when he makes eye contact with his Grandpa he has a fit of the giggles and runs back down the hall. Connor repeats this game a few times and before we know it time has come for Dad to leave. We go back down the hall to tell Connor "Grandpa has to go bye bye."
Connor walks over to him and pulls on his hand until he bends down and then hugs him. Then he grabs his hand and walks him to the door.
"Wow I feel honored Connor, you've never given me a hug before." By the sound of his voice he was a little emotional too.