“Grandpa, I want you to come with us,” Charles said. I was determined not to go on the train ride. I wanted to stay behind and rest.
We had rented a beautiful house just north of Blue Ridge, Georgia. It was right on the Toccoa River with a magnificent view in all directions.
Sitting on the back deck, all I could hear were the sounds of nature—the geese, the river, the rustling of the trees in the breeze, and an amazing quiet.
I needed rest.
Then Charles asked me to come with him on the train. I knew I had to go. Charles is very close to Kathy. She is a wonderful grandmother. She will play on the floor with the grandchildren for hours doing everything they want to do.
Pushing trucks, playing with a ball, putting together puzzles, building forts, carrying the water hose for the fire chief, you name it. She never gets bored. She loves them, and they love her.
I’m a selfish grandfather.
I wanted Charles to do what I wanted us to do. But there was my three-year-old grandson, my namesake, asking me to sit on a train with him. He held my hand as we approached the train. We walked past the locomotive together, got our tickets, and boarded.
I was tired and quiet.
He just sat there next to me. We were enjoying being in each other’s space. He played with his Batman action figure. I shared some images of Batman I found on the web. We talked about which one was the coolest. I liked the real-life Batman, and he liked all the cartoon drawings.
Then the train started to leave the station. We watched as the mountain scenery washed by us. It was so relaxing. He looked out the window across the aisle. I looked out my window. But we sat there together, just being together.
Kathy and I do this after a long day.
We will have dinner together while watching one of our favorite Netflix series. We talk a little. But we mostly are enjoying being in the same space. We are not checking email or social media. We are doing something together. She is tired. I’m tired. We are tired together.
I thank Charles for inviting me on the train ride. This three-year-old reminded this 64-year-old how to enjoy life. We weren’t doing or learning or trying. We were sharing the same space. We were together. That was the rest I needed, not sitting alone on a porch watching the river.
When we returned to the house, my world flooded in on me again. All the things I should be doing began to hound me, but I couldn’t do them there. The family was too much of a distraction. So I packed my bag and said goodbye to my daughter and son-in-law.
Kathy and Charles were playing at the river.
They were laughing as they soaked their feet. Charles was running in and out of the water, dunking his head and throwing stones. I remember them laughing and smiling. Kathy pleaded with me to stay. I told her I couldn’t.
I drove back to Atlanta alone.