“Hi, Hun!” Ginny said as I came in the door. “Heather and Elizabeth are here.”
“Hi, Baby!” I hugged Ginny.
She kissed me. “Welcome home, Baby.”
“It’s good to be home.” I turned to my step-and granddaughters. “Hey, Heather!
You taking a break from the boys?” She has three boys under ten.
“You know it! Nathan’s watching them.”
Fourteen-month-old Elizabeth stood fussing a few feet away in the living room.
“Hey, Lizzy girl! What’s up?” She continued to whine but allowed me to pick her up for a hug. “What’s wrong, little one? You not happy?’
I put her down. “Since you’re here, Heather, want to play a game of dice?” It’s a game we play often.
Ginny, Heather, and I sat around the kitchen table and played our game. Elizabeth walked to her mother and stood crying. “What is wrong with you, Elizabeth? Why are you so fussy tonight.” Heather asked.
I got up from my chair, walked around the table, picked Elizabeth up, and carried her back to my chair. “You want to sit with Poppa, Lizzy?” She broke into a smile.
“Wow! She really loves her Poppa.” Ginny said.
I beamed with pride. “Maybe she just wanted my attention.”
For more than half an hour, I bounced her on my knee, as we played our game. Elizabeth smiled, giggled, and cooed like any contented baby. “That’s really something, Mike.” Heather said. “She was fussing long before you got home. I don’t know what her problem is, but you have the magic touch.”
Elizabeth started to squirm, so I put her down. She immediately started to cry. “Maybe she’s hungry.” I suggested.
Heather fixed a bottle for her. I picked Elizabeth up, cuddled, and fed her.
“Look at how she is staring at me!” I said. “She’s totally content in my arms. This is amazing.”
Ginny smiled. “She just loves her Poppa.”
Elizabeth reclined in the crook of my arm and stared up at me. I felt love only a grandparent can experience. She suckled her bottle and locked her eyes on mine. One tiny hand reached up. Little fingers ran through my beard. I felt her love, stared back at her, and choked out tender words. “I love you, Elizabeth.”
She finished her bottle. I put her down. Ginny and I stepped out onto our patio. Elizabeth stood by the patio doors and began to scream. Tears ran down her cheeks, as she stared through the glass at Ginny and me. “Gin, she wants me again.”
“I know, Hun. She has really become attached to you.”
Heather picked Elizabeth up, as I stepped back into the house. Elizabeth struggled and screamed in her arms. One of her legs kicked out over-and-over again. “What is wrong with her?” Ginny asked.
Heather rocked her daughter, but she continued to kick and scream. Heather reached down and slipped the shoes off of Elizabeth’s feet. In an instant, the screaming stopped. The tears began to dry on Elizabeth’s cheeks. She smiled with relief.
“It was her shoes!” Heather said. “When I put them on, I thought one felt tight. I think one of her toes must have got bent over.”
“No wonder she cried.” Ginny stroked Elizabeth’s hair. “Poor, baby!”
Later, Elizabeth toddled around the house and explored a world that must seem so large to her. I watched her smile at each new discovery. She was the happy little girl we all knew.
I watched her and thought about the many people I’ve met in the past. There were some who were crying or cranky. Some were rude and even nasty. I’d wonder, “How can anyone act that way?”
I continued to watch the now smiling Elizabeth. A thought came to me. Were those people really rude or were they trying to tell the world they hurt? Maybe they were crying out in pain. I don’t know what their problem was, but like Elizabeth, maybe they just needed someone take the weight off their hurting feet.