By S M Chen, posted by Debbonnaire Kovacs, March 2, 2016
A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. – Jackie Robinson, baseball player (1919-1972)
My only begotten 5-year-old namesake grandson recently stayed overnight with me. While it wasn’t the first time, it is a recent development. His parents deemed that previously he wasn’t ready. According to him, he’s been ready for some time.
He sleeps in the guest bedroom on a sleigh bed. The frame is massive and heavy.
I tell him the name of the bed.
Being familiar with the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, he asks if reindeer are real. I tell him that they are indeed real, but that Rudolph is fictitious.
Anthropomorphism rears its head in Holy Writ as well as modern fable and song.
In one of the rare examples of Biblical animals talking, Balaam’s donkey spoke to its rider.
Christ remarked, as he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey, that if onlookers were silenced the very rocks would cry out.
Humans apply anthropomorphism liberally in an attempt to better understand and describe the Almighty, upon whose face no man may look and live (unlike the Mosaic brass serpent in the wilderness, upon which snake-bitten Israelites had to look in order to live).
I tell grandson the bed is grateful for his presence. It gets lonely when, most of the time, it sits by itself, not serving its intended purpose (The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein comes to mind). It is glad when he sleeps over, for then it is no longer neglected and alone (while asleep, he wanders in all directions over the comforter surface, leaving no major area unvisited).
He seems to like having the bed come alive and miss the companionship of a young boy.
He is very much into his iPad. Were his thumbs voices, they would wax eloquent. He becomes engrossed and I go to my office adjacent to the bedroom.
I check on him a couple times. Each time he tells me he is not ready for sleep.
The third time, I find he is fast approaching the land of Morpheus. I ask him if he is ready for me to say bedtime prayer. He tells me, in the slow, soft voice of one about to depart consciousness, that it is too late for prayer.
I tell him it is never too late.
I kneel by his bedside.
By the time I am finished (no, my prayer does not rival the Great Wall in length), he is asleep.
I cover him with a purple blanket, knowing, even as I do, it won’t stay there long.
The window is minimally ajar. A night-light shines but dimly on an opposite wall. Hoping he won’t take a chill, I leave the thermostat set at 70.
Poet Donald Justice wrote: ‘Men at forty/ Learn to close softly/ The doors to rooms they will not be/ Coming back to.’
I do not close the door to his room.
Next morn, after I prepare a simple breakfast (Cheerios, which he eats at home, banana sliced transversely, soymilk), he sits in the kitchen at a small assembled red plastic table his mother previously brought, along with matching chairs, for his use. Like the bed Goldilocks finally located in the house of the three bears, they are just the right size.
He wants to play Junior Monopoly, which his mother left here along with other games.
We played this once before, at his house, and I was struck then by his unselfish spirit when, unprompted, he handed me money as I was about to fold due to low cash. At that time, he told me he didn’t want to win.
The Junior version accommodates up to four players. I prepare the game for two, not counting on his spirit of inclusion.
He had brought several toys for his sleepover, including two multicolored caterpillars, which he calls “Catapees.”
He decides two, one small and one large, should participate. While he chooses game pieces for them, I, as banker, give each their allotment of money.
After a few rounds, the large Catapee ends up with little cash, and is about to go under.
Upon seeing this, grandson promptly takes some of his own money and gives it to the Catapee, saying, “I don’t want to win.”
This confirms that his prior behavior (about which I wrote: https://atoday.org/the-game-of-life.html) was no fluke.
He somehow possesses a genuine selfless streak for which I can only be grateful.
He loses interest in Junior Monopoly and turns to some other activity (of which, counting Legos, train set, trampoline and action figurines, there is abundance).
I tell him I have a Los Angeles version of adult Monopoly. He wants to see it, so I bring the game from the closet and set it up, also on the floor.
It differs from Junior in several ways. One is that the money, rather than only one denomination, comes in several: 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500. The bills are also various colors, to aid differentiation.
I tell him real currency is all green. I take some bills from my wallet and show him – Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson. I have Grant but no Franklin.
He is not particularly interested. Perhaps because he is only 5.
Regardless, in one way this gladdens me. Part of me wishes for this disinterest to remain; I think his life will be the better for it.
For Holy Writ tells us, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth.”
What I wish for him is to possess, in abundance, the spirit of otherness.
I very much want to see him on the other side.