An old ATV rumbles to a stop in front of the house on a Sunday afternoon. An older man swings his leg over the machine and hops off the seat and heads toward the house with the zest of a person in his early thirties and walks up to the front door. He gives a slight polite knock and he turns the knob and announces his arrival by saying “knock knock.”
“Hey,” the old man says matter-of-factly. “Is my granddaughter here?”
“Well yeah”, the son laughs. “Where else would she be?”
About that time a bright eyed dark haired beauty scampers down the hallway. “PAWPAW!!!” she screams as she runs toward him with one sock already off and the other flopping from the end of her tiny three year old foot. She runs as him full speed and locks her arms around the neck of her now kneeling grandfather.
“You care if she comes with me?” the old man asks his son.
“Not at all, have fun.”
“Well put your shoes on”, the man tells the toddler. The little girls runs and grabs her Velcro strapped Dora the Explorer shoes and plops her pull-ups down on the floor at his feet and attempts to put her shoes on.
“Wrong foot”, the old man says with a smile. The little girl looks up at him and he points with his finger at the other foot, indicating she is putting the shoe on the wrong foot.
They hop on the four wheeler and make the short trip up the old worn trail through the apple orchard to his house. As she sits in front of the ATV with her little hands on the rusty handle bars he lets her believe she is driving.
The ATV pulls up to an old tin shed converted into a carport / shed. He picks her up by the waste and sets her down on the dilapidated blacktop. “Today I’m gonna show you how to use the leaf blower. You are in for a treat. First things first, you always check the oil”, the grandfather says as he hovers over the john deer leaf blower checking the oil. “Remember Maddy, it’ll run without gas but not oil.”
The man realizes she doesn’t really understand what he’s talking about but she is hanging on every word so he keeps talking. “See gas gives it energy to go. Oil keeps all the parts working. If it runs out of gas it just won’t run. If it runs out of oil, it will ruin the whole thing and may never work right again. I used to tell your daddy that when he was little. Did you know that?”
She just stares blankly as he pulls the cord to crank the engine. Finally he gets it running. She has an absolute blast running around the blacktop showing him the leaves he can blow. Every now and then he points it at her, blowing her hair straight back as she squeals in delight.
They finish the yard work and he straps her in the booster seat of his pickup truck. He drives her home. When they get there he helps her out of the truck and says, “Go tell your daddy you’re going to church with me and ask him if he wants to go.”
The little girl runs inside, excited she gets to stay with Paw Paw a little longer. A few minutes later she runs back out and wants back inside the truck. “He said no thank you. He’s eating!”
“Go back in and tell him what you learned today”, he old man persisted.
The little girl runs back inside and says, “Paw Paw says it’ll run without gas but not oil” then runs back out.
The little girl’s father stops eating his sandwich mid-bite and sets in on the table, staring straight ahead. He is immediately taken back to his father always saying that to him as a child, but this time it was coming from his little angel. He realized at that moment that his wise father was never really talking about leaf blowers and weed eaters. Tears roll down his face. It meant something else entirely.
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