I Used to Read to Him


Kim and I always look forward to having the grandkids over for a “spend the night.”  Dragging their small suitcase roller bags and carrying pillows, they will walk into the house and excitedly announce: “We’re spending the night!” We always act surprised and thrilled.

We always do baths, bedtime stories, and prayers before tucking them into bed. They have each claimed a guest room for their own. The four-year-old is eager to hear a story, and his prayers are unforgettable. There’s a certain way we are instructed to fold our hands, start, and end the prayer. He is very meticulous in his routine. 

He’s so proud to be four, and every time he reminds me of this, I always respond with a cry of sadness and disbelief. He loves to frequently remind me he is four and wait for my sadness to show on my face. It always gets a hearty laugh. I’m not sure who he will become, but one thing I do know for sure: he will be a very powerful, inspiring, and convincing leader. His grasp of vocabulary is impressive, and the way he uses his hands drives his point home.

The six-year-old is all business. He’s in charge. He looks after his younger brother to the point of advising Kim and me on how we are to handle things. He has a full grasp of the nighttime routine, and initiates it with great attention to detail. 

After making sure little brother has his pillow and stuffed animals, he then heads to his room, requesting our presence as he goes, and he helps us get the bedtime routine correct. It is always fun to watch and experience. 

Once, as I sat on his bed to read the book he had chosen, he quickly took the book from my hand (very politely, I might add) and announced he would be reading the story. I knew he had taken to reading with great enthusiasm and success, and he loves to read. I was not ready for him to take the book out of my hands and inform me he would be doing the reading. He read the book word for word with flawless command of the English language. 

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We live about a mile away from the campus of Oklahoma Christian University. They paved a wide, two-and-a-half-mile trail around the perimeter of the campus. It weaves around the various buildings, around a pond, across a bridge, and as you walk, you pass by some memorial gardens, benches, and memorial stones. 

There’s one particular place on this trail that always makes me think, and occasionally grin at myself for finding that spot so special. On the west side of the trail, there’s a large retirement center which is also owned by the University. Depending on where I started my walk, the retirement center is on my right and one of the new university dormitories is on my left. For a few minutes, it’s as if I’m caught between where I once was and where I’m headed. 

There’s a Bible verse that comes to mind every time I pass through that area of campus. You’ve no doubt heard it many times: “Teach us how short our lives really are so that we may be wise."

Maybe I’m just too sentimental. Maybe this is all a part of hitting sixty years of age and realizing how fast this life is going. Maybe it’s a reminder that life is more than most of what I worry about.

So, when I walk by the retirement center and the dormitory, when I’m reading to a grandson or having a grandson read to me, I’m reminded that wisdom comes from putting my time and energy into things that really matter.