Our son, Eric, and his wife, Jenny, live in the tiny town of Garfield, Washington. They have been married for 11 years. Eric, a poster boy for Scandinavians, is 6 feet 7 inches tall, with blonde hair and pale blue eyes. Jenny, born in Colombia is 5 feet tall, with long black hair and brown eyes that match her cocoa skin. Their family includes four walking and breathing “lures” — two girls and two boys. Bronze-skin, dark hair, broad smiles, mischievous, inquisitive and beautiful — for whom Mary Beth and I happily hop into our car for a road trip. Annually. One thousand three hundred thirty one miles. Nineteen hours and 40 minutes. But who’s counting?
Do all the people of my generation (“Generation Old”) take insane steps to spend time with their grandkids?
Last year, Hunter, first-born of the lures, was able to ride back to Little Falls with us for a visit that lasted just over two weeks. It was my idea because when I was Hunter’s age, I spent a great deal of my summer vacation with my grandma and grandpa at their cabin. In hindsight, the cabin was no more than a shack on a back lot with a view of Round Lake. But to me, it was a castle in paradise, where every moment brought pleasure, adventure and joy. I made friends there and was welcomed by them each summer from my seventh year to age 14. Simply writing about it fills me with indelible sounds, sights and smells.
My grandparents, however, lived just three hours from our home in Two Harbors.
MB and I climbed back into the car once again with Hunter, for the second odyssey in less than three weeks. Madness.
In June of this year, fairly well healed emotionally, physically and spiritually, we made for Garfield once more.
But this year, shortly after Hunter’s 10th birthday, we were granted a full month with him at our house.
He spent time each day fishing off our dock, shouting for occasional help because he had a “monster” on the line. Most often the Leviathan managed an escape before Mary Beth or I reached the dock. We took him to Two Harbors and Duluth to get reacquainted with great aunts and uncles. He walked with us to the end of the breakwater in Two Harbors, jumped into cold Lake Superior at Brighton Beach near Duluth, enjoyed a cruise of the busy bay area in the Vista Star and spent time at the train museum in downtown Duluth (perhaps his favorite site). One evening, Nick the Chef, a son of our good friends, Steve and Voni, prepared a delicious four-course masterpiece for four couples and our very food-fussy grandson. Hunter promised to at least taste everything, which he did.
Good stewards, let’s thank God for the gift of family. Old, young, here, gone, messy…perfect.
Curt Hanson is executive director of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of St. Cloud and director of the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development.