Today I drove them to the airport, helped unload and get all the luggage and gear into the ticketing area fifty feet away, then hurriedly kissed them goodbye as I dashed off to respond to the public announcement, “Will the owner of the green Ford Expedition please return to the vehicle immediately.”  It wasn’t a question.  It was a command.  I knew the security at this tiny airport was rigid, but I also knew the guy stood and watched me unload two large suitcases, a Pack-‘N-Play, a stroller, a regulation car seat, and a mommy and her toddler.  Somehow, I had entertained the belief that at such a small facility with two other cars unloading in front and no one waiting to do so, the security guard would cut me some slack for five minutes, would give me a break out of a heart of compassion.  Boy, was I naive!  No time for compassion or family feelings, we’re here to stop terrorists!  God knows they must be swarming in through this airport.

DSC_00922009-09-19_13-48-21Well, anyway, I gave quick kisses to Jessica and Nadia, then dashed to my truck and drove away.  “Bye, Dad.  Thanks for all the fun.  Love you!”  “Love you, too, sweetheart, you and that wonderful little granddaughter.  Take care!” Not sure I said that, I was in such a hurry to avoid having my truck towed, but I sure thought it.  On the way home I was, of course, “blue” — something the sky was not.  We’re having overcast skies every morning and most days, fairly atypical for this time of year.  But the effect lent itself well to some of my emotions as I drove.  We’d had five days of real fun together.  Now I’d get home, quickly change into work clothing, then head off for the office.  No time to sit and savor the fun, hilarity and challenges of this wonderful five-day visit.  Only after work would time allow me to enjoy the memories while they were fresh, and by then they’d already be overlaid with a thick crust of the day’s business, so that I’d have to dig deeper to find the nuggets.  But the nuggets, like pure gold, survived the business day’s intrusions in good form.

Recollection of the fun started with my cleaning all the fine sand off two plastic beach buckets with small plastic shovel, scoop, a plastic road-grader toy and an even smaller plastic car, the latter driven by a smiling little Howdy Doody-looking man who’s locked in a permanent, paralyzed wave of his plastic hand.  His face recently had been kissed by those sweet little lips as he was pulled out of a sand castle on the beach.  She just picked him up with her chubby little hands, held him close to her face while she studied him very seriously for several seconds, then pulled him to her lips and smacked him a good one all over his tiny face.  Then she looked up at me sitting there watching, and a big smile broke out on her face.  Such a happy face!  Where was my camera when I needed it?  Tucked safely in its bag to keep the fine sand out of its works!  Argh!

God bless those chubby cherub-hands and that brightly lit face.  She is such a loving child, happy … and a little headstrong at times.  But I’d be disappointed if she weren’t, probably thinking her a tad short in inspirationDSC_01442009-09-20_13-34-05 and intensity for life.  Believe me, she’s got it!

As I thought about her today, the intensity of her personality came back without struggle.  When we played on the beach with a new bucket and shovel for digging sand, she soon decided that shovel work was just too slow and unexciting.  Pulling herself from the sand and picking up her new bucket, she headed for the water, that pounding, roaring surf.  There was no hint of trepidation at the prospect of the water’s force, doubtless because she was totally unaware of it.  She just knew she had a bucket and wanted some water in it.  I trailed close by with my camera, watching those little legs pump down the beach and those chubby cheeks jiggling like Jello with every jarring step on the packed sand near the waterline.  She held her bucket thrust straight out in front by her stiff arm, held parallel to the ground.  Right into the surf she went, then stopped, filled her bucket and turned back toward shore immediately.  The weight lowered her arm, but she grasped the bucket firmly with both hands now, gripping its rim with determination.  Water sloshed out with each step, but up the beach she went at rather amazing speed, given her short little stride.  The look on her face told it all.  There was sand stuck to one cheek and the side of her head where she’d earlier lain down on the sand briefly to enjoy its comfortable warmth that was more than a good tradeoff for any concern about getting dirty.  There had been no thought of getting dirty.  No fragile little wallflower, this one.  Yet she’s tender, a small child with all the curiosity and wonder built inside, wanting to know about life and all it offers.

This same small child must have made twenty or more trips up and down the shoreline, hauling water each time, only to dump it out on her pile of sand and immediately make another beeline for another bucketful.  Jessica and I were amazed.  As we watched her and played with her, as I captured her play in my camera and talked with “Mama” and enjoyed the sun’s warmth, I thought of the piece I published here recently — the one about the young school kids.  I was concerned about what they’re being taught — the fear, the admonitions to mistrust, the tentativeness and imminent threat of that big world out there.  No doubt, all the concerns of careful and loving parents, anxious to preserve their children in safety, come to bear in that mix.  And yet I have to think they are simultaneously forgetting an equally important aspect of life — the ability to live in abiding security and enjoyment, the joie de vivre that we must all have been created to feel and know.  My thoughts on this day, as I rode back home from the airport alone, a little misty-eyed and yet proud as could be, turned to song again.  I thought about my precious little granddaughter’s vulnerability, how strong yet fragile she is.  Even so, I thought of those who protect her, just like I do when she’s with me, and just like I would anytime anything threatened her.  The song’s words surged strong in my mind:

“If You Were Mine” by Fernando Ortega from This Bright Hour CD

When my heart is troubled, and I am weighed down,

Then I like to think of how this lonesome world would be

If I could see your face, or hold you in my arms,

If you were mine,

If you were mine.

If you had a bad dream, I would jump inside it,

And I would fight for you with all the strength that I could find.

I would lead you home by your tiny hand,

If you were mine,

If you were mine.

I would sing of love on the blackest night.

I would sing of God and how His goodness fills our lives.

I would sing to you ‘til the morning light,

If you were mine,

If you were mine.

I would sing to you ‘til the morning light,

If you were mine,

If you were mine.Carp Bch 12 9.19.09

I’m glad I sometimes think in songs .  I’m thankful I have a wife, children and grandchildren to think songs about.  I’m joyful to have tiny hands to hold on big beaches.  I’m delighted those tiny hands feel the joy and strength of life surging through them.

Carpe diem.  Vita brevis!


© Sep. 2009 by Michael E. Stubblefield – all rights reserved


3 thoughts on “Carryin’ the Water

  1. This is absolutely beautiful and heartwarming. Print it off and start a book for Nadia or put it in an envelope to mail to her when she’s a teenager feeling some foreign insecurities and needing a reassuring missive from someone who loves her. Seriously, this is beautiful and heartwarming and, I think, will someday mean so much to her.

  2. So sweet, and the warm memories of that not so warm beach and the fun times with Popop live on with Nadia too. If I mention it to her, she looks in my face and smiles or laughs and sometimes makes ocean sounds.

    I think this song lyric is such a great way to express wanting to protect and be there for someone:
    “If you had a bad dream, I would jump inside it,
    And I would fight for you with all the strength that I could find.”

    One of Nadia’s favorite things to do before she goes to sleep is to hear me sing or just say all the names of the people who love her. And she reminds me of any that I forget. Popop’s always on it.

    We love you, Jessica & Nadia

    1. Wow, that warms my heart — and brings tears to my eyes! We love our grandkids and are so fortunate to be able to have a place in their lives, along with all the others who’re there, too. Those lyrics that you pointed out are what endeared me to that song years ago when I heard it — and the part about “leading you home by your tiny hand.” I’m reminded of tiny hands that held mine and how that made me feel so connected at a visceral level beyond all explanation. That’s just the way it’s supposed to be, and I can’t explain it — that jumping inside the bad dream and doing battle.

      Love from Popop.

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