(Originally written on September 2, 2014)
This month is the beginning of a very full life for me; tomorrow, I start working on my Master’s degree. On top of working two jobs, full time graduate school is daunting. For weeks, I’d been spending almost every waking moment preparing (or, arguably, over-preparing) for my upcoming studies when something dawned on me: “I need to see my grandparents.”
Punch and Mannon, my father’s parents, have been a tremendous influence in my life. Most of my fondest childhood memories include them, even if their presence is but a mere flicker somewhere in the corner. The radiant joy that they each exude is contagious, and I firmly believe that it will be difficult for me to find better people as long as I live.
When I called my grandfather in January, it tickled him a great deal to tell me that it scared him to look at his driver’s license; it’s one of the few documents to prove that he just celebrated his ninetieth birthday. “I guess this means your Grandpa Punch is finally an old man, Chris!” he bellowed with an uproarious laugh.
My wife and I made the long drive to Southern California. With a packed schedule, we were only able to visit for a few hours before we had to brave the ride home, but each minute was a blessing.
It had been many, many years since we were able to make the trip. And even though the warmth and the smiles and the laughter haven’t changed much, there were some things that have. The years are beginning to catch up with the two of them; in her room at the nursing home, my grandmother, though she still gave me the sweetest smile, didn’t remember who I was. It seemed as though the world has altogether disappeared before her except for one thing.
“Your Punchy’s here,” my grandpa cooed as he caressed her hand.
“Good good good!” Her exclamations were aglow with bright laughter.
They’ve been married for almost seventy years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if people have been adorning canvases with or writing sonnets praising them for centuries. The way they love the world and one another is astounding, and I know that, a long time from now, my grandchildren will be telling their own little ones about Mannon and Punch: the kindest people on Earth.