The tall man pushed the grocery cart across the parking lot with a youngster in the child seat of the buggy.
He is a friend, and I watched from a distance as he chatted with the little one whom I took to be a grandchild.
He dutifully took the buggy to the cart return area of the parking lot and turned, walking a few steps away toward his car.
“Hey, get me out of here,” I heard the young one call.
My friend had gone off without his grandson in one of those jokes that we grandparents like to play from time to time. He turned around with a smile on his face and gathered the bundle of love in his arms, squeezing him tightly as if to say, “I love you so much, do you think there is a chance I could forget you?”
Grandparenthood! There is nothing like it.
My wife and I got to experience a grandparent moment last week with two of ours. It is not often that we can actually do things with our grandchildren. There is the age disconnect of more than five decades that is hard to overcome. There is the interest factor – things they like to do, we don’t. Thing we like to do they can’t.
It is more often that we do things for our grandkids. They want to play Candyland; we play Candyland. They want to watch “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” for the umpteenth time; we watch “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” for the umpteenth time.
This year, however, we had a special Christmas moment with two of ours. My wife and I were asked four years ago to take part in the opening scene of “The Nutcracker” the holiday ballet that was being put on by the Aiken Civic Ballet Company. I am still not sure why the ballet company’s artistic director, Diane Toole Miller, asked us. It was not because of any stage or dancing experience I have had. Two left feet would be a compliment to my dancing skills.
But she asked us to be in the party scene as the parents who are putting on the Christmas party after which Clara falls asleep and the story unfolds from there.
This year was our fourth in a row of being a part of the party scene with other adult couples and some adorable children. Our two granddaughters, Hadley and Gabi, were part of the performance as well. While not in the party scene, they had their own roles in the elaborate show. Hadley was a tiny mouse; Gabi was a little angel.
Even though we were not on stage at the same time as our granddaughters, it was special being part of the same performance with them, and we had our pictures taken together in costume. That will be one for the photo albums to look at for years to come.
Yes, being a grandparent is special. We get to watch little ones grow up without having the distractions that go along with parenthood. We get to go to basketball games and laugh when one of them shows off his dance moves in the free throw lane when he is supposed to be playing defense.
We get to hear about the oldest one going hunting with his dad, even when they come back empty handed.
And sometimes we get to joke with them in the grocery store parking lot by pretending we have forgotten them.
“Hey, get me out of here!” Those are words that you won’t hear from us about living the life of a grandparent.
Jeff Wallace is the retired editor of the Aiken Standard.