Three days, and nary a gnat!

Published 8:40 am Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I don’t know where you would have to live to not appreciate three days with nary a gnat, but if your abode is south Georgia, three days without worrying about that most bothersome of vermin is worth crowing about. Donna Sue and I spent three such days last week and no gnats was just one of the delightful aspects.

Last week included our annual Independence Day holiday and we were invited down to Sarasota, Florida, to spend the holidays with my sister and other members of our family, not the least of which were my daughter, her husband, and my wonderful grandson, who we had not seen in over a year.

Not only were there no gnats down there (someone told me I should have taken these up here), but I also took a respite from all the news programs that interest me in a perverse way and can be, if you believe it, more irritating than the gnat.

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My sister’s house is actually in Nokomis, Florida, a community around Sarasota. I have no idea what you think is the typical house in Florida, but hers is Florida, no doubt. It has all the palm trees, orange and grapefruit trees, and Saint Augustine grass you would expect. It has a large, living and dining area that is not separated by walls and it all seems to flow onto the screened-in lanai (le-neye).

I really don’t know what a lanai is, but it’s very comfortable lounging area and even has a cement pond. I mention the cement pond for all of you who remember the Beverly Hillbillies mansion of Jed Clampett. Granny Clampett always talked about the “see-ment” pond, or “pool.”

By the time we had gotten there, my daughter, Jessica, and grandson, Cam, were already there. He was in the pool and it was no problem at all for him to jump into my arms despite the fact that he was soaked from head to toe. I’ll take that kind of wetness any day.

He is 6, now. When I mention that to folks who know him and me, they are amazed at how quickly the time has passed. They remark that it seems like only yesterday when he was born. Isn’t that the way it is with all of our lives. As the Bible says, life is like a vapor; here today and gone tomorrow.

Cam calls me “Grandpa” and Donna Sue “Grandma.” Life changes so fast and kids, like Cam, grow up, up, and away. I did not know just how he would take to me and, thankfully, he seems to think a lot of me. Maybe that’s just my wishful thinking.

He took my hand and wanted to show me something like a secret. He led me to the room that we would be occupying and carefully shut the door. I did not know exactly what to expect, but soon, he let me know that he was going to share a mystery with me.

He whispered and made sure that I knew that whispering was the way we were to converse. This was important and secretive stuff.

“The Chamber of Secrets has been opened,” he said softly, but intensely.

We were alone in that room and I may be an insensitive Grandpa, but I am smart enough to know when something important has been revealed. The only problem was that I had no idea what a Chamber of Secrets was.

My daughter had told me, beforehand, that Cam was “into” Harry Potter. The only thing I know about Harry Potter is that he has made a gazillion dollars for a female writer by the name of J.K. Rowling. But, so far as a Chamber of Secrets was concerned, I was on my own.

I began to whisper back to Cam. “When did this happen?” I was fishing for any clue as to what the Chamber of Secrets was. This was some good, pretend stuff and my relationship with my grandson depended on my playing the part in this mysterious movie. I was up to it!

He mentioned someone by the name of Lord Voldemort. As far as I could tell, Lord Voldemort was a bad dude and we needed to be wary of him. The combination of my hearing and his whispering had me grasping at the correct name. I tried to get him to pronounce it more distinctly and he did. I could hear that the name began with the letter “V.”

I held my two fingers up in the “V” for Victory way and we seemed to connect with that signal. For the next two days, whenever I wanted to get Cam’s attention, I held up my two fingers, as in “V,” and acted as if he and I were the only ones who understood.

The parts of three days that I spent with Cam were precious and included two nights where he actually slept with me and Donna Sue. When you’re a Grandpa and you haven’t seen your grandson for a year and he wants to spend the night with you, don’t argue. Just do it and thank the Lord!

He was a little restless that first night, but Donna Sue — I mean, Grandma — was wonderfully patient with some Bible stories. Then Cam burrowed his head into me and settled there and fell asleep. It did not matter that within a few minutes, his little feet were in my face and he was turned all around. It didn’t matter that he slept diagonally. All that mattered was that he was there.

The time flew and we said our goodbyes over a Chick-Fil-A meal in Brandon. It was a great three days and it lasted all the way back to Bainbridge when I realized that I had not been bothered by gnats. I guess all good things come to an end!