The aroma of a backyard barbeque haunts us during the cold winter days. We yearn for the return of those golden summer days and nights…
We met our grandson and daughter at Tulsa International Airport. At that point, summer had arrived. We hugged and headed out for some good old southern cuisine. I looked at our Grand Prince #2 and exclaimed my how you have grown! Even though his height and weight had changed, the look in his eyes had not. I took a moment to savor the look of innocence that remained. My mind went back to the time of his birth. In my selfishness, I wished he could stay an infant. His world was pure and safe.
One night over dinner, I decided to have “the talk” with him. Our conversation was neither about the birds nor the bees. The topic was about police encounters. It pained me to think about having this conversation with our eight-year-old grandson. He was in a different city and state. I felt compelled to reinforce our daughter’s instructions. Also, the images of sons gone too soon dictated that I do so. I began by telling him; we are embarking upon a new world order. It’s a new day now. The world is not safe. Bad things happen to good people. Everyone is not making it home for supper. I told him all police officers are not bad. The cops, who profess to be good, pray that they will remain good. I want you to live and to know that. I went into detail about what to do and what not to do if he should have a police encounter. In my heart, I knew the checklist was not enough for others.
Lastly, I reminded him to keep doing well and remember the things, you were taught. Trust God, your instincts and yourself. I told him he was a child of God, our legacy and never to forget it. I told him his future was limitless because our ancestors had paved the way. After our talk, he surprised me when he told me he wanted to work in law enforcement. I asked him why and he replied, so I can help others. I stared into his eyes and wished this moment would last forever.
Today, his eyes are void of the sting of discrimination, racism and the pain of politics. I saw no pipeline to prison. I saw no miseducation of a broken soul. I saw no hash tag. In those eyes, I see dreams and potential. In those eyes I see validation. His eyes shine bright with our family values and unconditional love. In those eyes, I see an old soul who gets it; God first and then family.
Sitting across from me is a young man who has a keen sense of humor. He is content riding his bicycle, swimming, dissecting the news, playing football and video games. Just mention an Akita dog and he lights up! He still believes in the magic of Christmas, and I am cool with that.
We will miss him when he returns home. We will miss his infectious smile and the sounds of his feet. We will miss turning off his night-light. We will miss his hugs. I will miss doing his laundry. We will miss covering him with his favorite blanket. We will miss our family discussions, his culinary creations and the trips to the ice cream parlor. Lest I forget, his impressions of Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson and technology tips; priceless.
As our summer draws to an end, I refuse to count the remaining days. After supper, he bolts towards the front door, and I scurry to the front window. I can’t afford to miss this moment as he tosses his Frisbee in the Oklahoma sun.