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Cole Parker

When He Was Five


        When he was 25, they had a son.  He was 7 pounds and had almost no hair and was so perfect I thought he had to be a store-bought doll, except for when he was squirming.  He laid in his mother’s arms with his eyes closed and looked like he belonged there, which he did.

        When Tyler held him, the look on Tyler’s face was a mixture of wonder and pride like I’d never seen.

        Do you want to hold him, Dad?

        Oh, no, I’m afraid I’d drop him.  He’s so tiny!

        Hold him, Dad, said Mary tiredly, smiling up at me.  You have to hold him.  He’s part of our family.  Yours and Tyler’s and mine.

        I hesitantly held my arms out, and Tyler carefully laid him in them.  We decided to name him Morgan.

        I just looked at him.  You don’t have to do that.  There are lot’s of great boy’s names.  What about, say, Tyler?

        No, we’ve already signed the papers.  His name is Morgan James Stewart.  My father likes the James part, laughed Mary.

        Thank you, I said humbly.  I don’t know what to say.

        You don’t need to say anything.  Just hold your grandson.

        Tyler and Mary had both found jobs in the town where I lived.  I’d been both ecstatic and sad.  The ecstasy was because after six years of college, I had my son back, if not at home, near by.  The sadness was because I didn’t want him held back in any way, either him or Mary, because of me.

        That’s not going to happen, Dad.  Mary can get a job with a bank here as well as anywhere else, and I can teach Special Ed here as well as anywhere else, too.  This is where we want to be.  I grew up here and this is a good place to live and raise a family.  Mary loves it here.  And this is where you are.

        Are you sure Mary wants to be here?  Why not her hometown?  It’s a bigger city, and with her father’s connections she’d have better opportunities there.

        Mary wants to be here as much as I do.  We’re going to have kids, probably pretty soon, and she wants them to grow up around you.  She says you’ll be a better grandpa than her own father.  And she doesn’t want to get a job because of her father’s connections.

        I think you chose a pretty good woman there, Tyler.  And smart as a whip.

        I think so, too.

        ==========  ===========  ===========

        When he was 28, Morgan was three.  He was a bundle of energy, cute as the dickens, and so smart I couldn’t believe it, and we spent a lot of time together.  Mary was working for 1st National Bank and Trust downtown and already was climbing the ladder.  Tyler was teaching Special Education at the local elementary school and some of his innovations were getting notice from the local School Board.  He said that was a lot of bother.  He wanted to concentrate on helping his kids, not spend time talking to a bunch of adults who thought they knew anything at all about teaching special needs kids.

        But they were both busy building careers, and I spent some time with Morgan.

        He loved McDonald’s, I think more for the play area and the toy than the food.  He loved watching the Wiggles on the tape we’d bought.  He loved wrestling with me.  He loved tickling me.

        But he loved just cuddling with me and talking more than anything.  What he liked best was talking about when his daddy was just a little boy.  He wanted to hear those stories all the time.  And I had a pretty good memory.

        I’d tell him things his daddy did, and he’d giggle at the funny things and listen seriously and ask questions about the other things.  We spent a lot of time together, Morgan and I.

        ==========  ==========  ===========

        When he was 29, Morgan was four.  Four year olds are supposed to be a nuisance.  They have more energy than a wind storm, ask endless questions and run their parents ragged.  They want to know how everything works and can hardly stand to wait for the answer to be explained.  Their next question is already bubbling on their tongue.

        Tyler was being called to Special Ed conferences at the state capital.  Mary was Manager of the Business Loan section of the bank and there was talk of a vice-presidency. 

        They were there for Morgan every night.  Every day, he was mine. 

        I’d never had a four-year-old before, so it was all new to me.  We learned together.  He learned how to be the best four-year-old he could be, and I learned patience and how to take naps when I could get a moment.  We both learned real good.  Just ask Morgan.  He’d tell you.