This weekend was the kind of stuff that the best of memories are made of. All the offspringin’s home, and the four grandchildren. This Mama/Grammy was at the height of happiness.
Before the light dawned on Friday morning, everyone was in Delaware. There were twelve bodies sleeping in the nooks and crannies of the old farmhouse. Middle Daughter had offered to make English Breakfast for the family and I slept solidly for the four hours that I was able to snatch after the last conversation was done and Cecilia and Nettie needed to get up for center.
There are always so many things that demand attention when a family is together, but this Grammy has been looking forward for many a day to having all four of the grandchildren together and going outside to play. It didn’t take too long on this gorgeous Friday morning to gather them up and take them out to the blacktop circle where they could ride their trikes and various wheeled toys to their hearts’ content. We took a long golf cart ride, and looked at all sorts of things around the back pasture. Four children, age four and under, are wonderful companions for a grammy on a nature ride on a cool morning in August in Delaware, and the conversations were to be cherished.
We came back up to the house, and the boys and Charis were busily riding around and around the circle. We have some specific rules in place at this house, and the one that I am not in the habit of bending (ever!) is that they may not go beyond the front walk in the driveway. However, for these children, ages 4, 3, 2, and 1, the rule was different. They had to stay in the circle area. I was keeper of the lane and watcher of the children. We were having a wonderful time.
But then I noticed that Liam, the two year old, had started to stray towards the lane. I was probably twenty feet away and I said in a calm voice, “Liam-honey, stay here with Grammy. You can’t go to the road. You might get hurt.”
He put it in high gear and headed straight for the road. I started in his direction.
“Liam! Stop! You cannot go to the road.” I might as well have been talking to a post. This little guy really put it into gear. He was riding a very free wheeling little tractor that was powered by pushing off the ground with his feet. He was exactly the right size. With each push of his powerful little legs, the toy was traveling an unbelievable distance. I started to run. It became obvious that he was not going to stop. I began screaming at the top of my lungs.
“Liam!!! Stop!!! You are going to get killed!!! Stop!!! Liam!!! Stop NOW!!!” I screamed and ran and screamed and ran. Every time I almost got a grasp on him, he gave another shove and flew another ten feet. There were no appendages on this little toy to grab. Down the lane we went, little guy laughing like it was a big joke. Grammy desperate and frantic and so, so scared, running as fast as her two replaced knees and almost 60 year old body could manage.
He never broke his stride for a second, out past the end of the fence, and straight onto the road. A car passed on the other side just as he got to the road, and he plowed on. I was so traumatized I couldn’t think straight. The way our lane is ordered, people coming down the road cannot see anything coming out until they are beyond the fence with the rose hedge going out to the road. I barely even looked to see if anything was coming, but out of the corner of my eye I saw a car at our neighbor’s house two doors down with two more cars behind it. I dashed out onto the road and grabbed the little guy and tried to pull him and the toy off the road. He started to resist, and I picked his sturdy little body up, threw it under one arm grabbed the toy with the other and flew out of harm’s way.
I was so distraught and upset that I didn’t even look to see who had brought their car to a complete stop on the road. I couldn’t bear to look at them. I have wished a thousand times since that I would have gone and hugged them and thanked them and offered to do something for them in sincere gratitude, but I just couldn’t think. My knees would scarcely function, and my heart was going two hundred beats a minute. I carried him rather unceremoniously under my arm like a sack of wheat until we got to the edge of the garage. I think it was then that I realized that Charis had followed me out, adding her voice to the fracas. She was also more than a little worried.
“Come on, kids,” said this very trembly Grammy. “We are going in.”
“Not want go in,” said a determined little voice from under my arm.
I pulled him into an upright position and said in a tired but convincing voice, “We are going in. We need to tell Daddy and Mommy that you got onto the road. Grammy cannot watch you if you do not listen. You could have gotten hit out there and been killed.” He squirmed and fussed and tried to get down. It would have taken a much stronger guy than he was to pry him loose.
Si and Frankie began to protest as well, and Grammy put on her terrible voice. “We are going in. NOW. All of you. Maybe you can come back out later, but we need to go in now!” For some reason, there was no more protest. I herded the other three and carried Liam into the kitchen that was milling about with people. Our house is so tight that no one had even heard the terrified screaming outside.
“We almost had a disaster,” I announced. Everyone was instantly to attention, and I retold the tale, out of breath, still almost unable to keep from shaking violently and still scared spitless. Liam’s parents were immediately on it, and I left him to them and their wisdom. I found me a chair and sat down. I felt so terrible, and all the “what if’s, and “might have been’s” and horrible scenarios went crashing through my brain. I have such a crazy imagination, and when I closed my eyes, I could see a crumpled and broken little boy body flying through the air after being hit by a vehicle. Our road is so busy, and the possibility was so real. I wanted to weep and weep and weep.
“Mama,” said Eldest Son gently after things had settled down with the parental admonition. “You are hating it, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am,” I said tearily. “It could have been so terrible.”
“Mom,” he said a bit firmly, “you are going to have to let it go. It didn’t happen. That’s what matters. It didn’t happen.”
“I know, but–” (I just had to say it–) “I could not have borne it it if something had happened to him while I was supposed to be watching him. And it so easily could have!”
“I know, Mama,” he said, ” and I think about it, too. It would have been terrible for something to happen to him, and I don’t know what we would have done, legally and all, (since the boys are still under Ohio’s Foster Care System) but the truth is, it didn’t. And we have to think about that.”
I was comforted some, but it didn’t help much, to be honest. My knees felt like jelly for the whole rest of the day. My heart was given to strange accelerations whenever certain reminders popped up, and my whole body felt like it had run a marathon. Well, maybe a hundred foot dash.
He tried it again, later that day when his Mommy and Daddy were there. They are younger than me, Eldest Son has a more terrible voice and longer legs and he got stopped before he got too far. We parked a car in the driveway at the front door then, so there would at least be an obstacle. And continued to keep close watch.
This weekend was a wonderful time. We saw so many people that we love, and had just the best time ever! I don’t think our wedding reception was as much fun as this party. (But then, I don’t remember much of that wedding reception, to tell you the truth!) And our offspringin’s did themselves proud. I cannot find fault with a thing.
But there was an understanding that made its quiet spot in my heart through all the festivities — the knowledge that all of this could have been changed in a single split second. The realization that every single minute of happiness that we enjoy is truly a gift from God, and that He is to be praised for His watchful care and generous provision for us. Does that mean that if Liam had gotten hit on the road that God wasn’t on His job? No. It means that God is God, and that for whatever reason, He protected and provided and allowed us to have a wonderful time with friends and family instead of grieving a terrible accident.
And Lord Jesus, Master of the Wind, Maker of the Waves, Blessed Controller of All Things, my Savior and Lord, I love you.
My heart gives grateful praise.