So much faster

Grady handles his suitcase like a seasoned pro. August 2, 2018

“They outgrow us so much faster than we outgrow them.”Jodi Picoult

Drew and Grady flew in to see us on Matt’s birthday. I had not seen Grady in nine months, and during that time he went from a somewhat precocious four year old to a very mature five year old. His birthday is a few days before Matt’s, so we had a joint party for the two of them.

Grady already has been in public school full time for an entire year, having been selected at random for a pilot program enrolling preschoolers in full time classes at the local elementary school. Although he recently started kindergarten for the first time, he’s accustomed to being at school all day.

He is not shy, but like his father and grandfather, he’s not particularly chatty. He did tell me proudly that he knows how to take pictures “with any kind of camera.” Thus I was able to indulge in one of my favorite activities, taking pictures of other people taking pictures. This one, of course, is extra-special. This was the first time Drew or Grady had ever been at Jeff’s grave with Matt or me.

Grady photographed Drew and Matt at Jeff’s grave.

Grady also enjoyed working a jigsaw puzzle of the USA that belonged to Matt many years ago. He liked it so well that he chose to work it again the next day, preferring that activity to going back to the swimming pool. When I asked him questions, rather than blurting out an answer quickly, he usually thought a moment before responding, often qualifying his response with a parallel reflection.

I really enjoyed having the chance to spend some time with him, and though I would have loved to see Owen too, I was more able to focus on Grady instead of dividing my time between the two of them. Since they spent only two nights with us, it was a short visit to begin with, and each moment with him was precious.

In that regard, as with so much else in my life (really everything, it seems to me now), I am consciously choosing to see whatever blessings and advantages I can find in what remains a pretty dismal picture. I might be determined to defeat despair, but I’m also a fundamentally honest person and I can’t lie about how hard it still is to get through each and every day.

But as the old saying goes, time flies whether you’re having fun or not. So I’m determined to keep having as much fun as I can– or the closest thing that passes for fun in this harsh, still-new existence– and no matter what else is going on, a grandson is certainly a magnificent gift. Sons are pretty special, too.


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    Wow! What a blessing that Grady is! And wise, too!
    (I’m guessing that runs in the family 😉 )
    Did Drew get to help out on, or see Matt’s other puzzle (more specifically, the one I sent)? Who knows? Maybe someday Grady will work that one, too!

    • Susan, yes to both. I seem to remember he agreed it was nice that we now have a “dedicated puzzle table” where we can leave a puzzle set up to work on even when we just have a few minutes. Incidentally, Matt and I really enjoyed working on it together yesterday. The amount of detail in it is great. It’s challenging but not frustrating. Thanks so much for such a fun gift. It brings back many happy thoughts of people and places no longer with us.

  2. Mike

    When Norah graduated from pre-school last June the teacher gave Jen a jar with 624 beads in it: one for each week till she garduates from high school. The jar is not that big. I have picts on my phone from last year and JoJo is in a high chair. Now she wants a phone. I assume Grady does too, but he has a camera., and is off and running. Norah started kindegarten last week and so far is undecided. She did not want to go this Monday. Today in fact.
    I don’t know if you saw the news blip about the young man in Seattle who stole a Horizon plane and eventually crashed it into Ketron Island. close to Tacoma. If we had been at our house- ten minutes from the airport- we could have watched it. In the transcripte with tower one he at one point apolgizes to his family and says,”I am just a broken young man.”
    I wonder how many others broken young ones are out there? I think sometimes our Millenials get a bad rap ,but they have not had such an easy path, coming into the world around the time of 9/11/ which began in my mind a new world order of sorts.

    • Mike, I think that is the greatest idea about the jar with 624 beads! I think every preschool teacher should do it. It really does help to bring the lesson home. Tell Norah that when I was four (nearly five) and it was time for me to start kindergarten, it was not mandatory and I remember Mama asking me what I wanted to do. I chose not to go. So I sympathize with her! But I could not avoid starting first grade at the age of five — with a late November birthday, that’s how it went — and I loved school right from the start. I’m still glad I didn’t go to kindergarten, because my best friend Teddy, the boy next door, didn’t go either (his birthday was one day before mine; odd that I ended up marrying a guy with the same birthday!) and I have such fond memories of all the times Teddy and I spent together during that year.

      About the young man who crashed the plane; the story touched me deeply, as I know it has so many others. It can be summed up in this eloquent meme that is easily found on Twitter and probably other social media. This world is a sad and scary place and I feel deeply for anyone who longs to escape it, as this young man obviously did. If only they could have talked him into landing. I bet thousands of people would have contributed to a Go Fund Me page that somebody would have set up to buy him flying lessons after he got out of jail (assuming he would have to go). And I guess I’m all the more deeply touched because I remember what it was like when Daddy would do aerobatics with us in his old Aeronca. I can understand why someone would want to experience that, especially after working on the tarmac for so long. Recall Leonardo’s quote that I featured in this post.

  3. MaryAnn Clontz

    WOW! What a great photo of Grady doing his own suitcase! I love this shot of “Daddy Drew”! I am so happy that they were at Matt’s birthday celebration, plus Grady’s! Such joy & love to bask in!
    Looks like Grady is the new Denton photographer. Super way to pass down your skills, Julia! Sending much love!

    • Thank you, Mary Ann. I hope that Grady does hang onto the joy of photography. I wasn’t much older than he is now, when I discovered it myself with my first little plastic camera. BTW your sweet presents arrived at our York home for Matt and are now safely in my clutches. Matt will enjoy opening them on Thursday! Thanks so much for thinking of him (and us) — we love you and keep you in our prayers! ❤

      • MaryAnn Clontz

        So happy, I am! (Yoda-speak)

        • Grateful we are! 😀

  4. Carolyn

    I can’t believe Grady is so big. Enjoyed seeing your pictures. I still need to send you a note. I am doing ok right now. Love to alL

    • Thanks Carolyn, I can’t believe it either. I owe you at least two or three notes for every one you owe me! But whenever we have time for it, I will love to hear from you AND write to you. Glad to know you are OK and praying that soon you’ll be GREAT. Love you!

  5. Such wonderful times with the grandkids. I love every moment with mine.

    • Yes, they are truly a joy. I’m glad you understand! 🙂

  6. MaryEllen Davis

    You’re doing great, Julia. Keep going.

    • Thank you, MaryEllen. It’s always reassuring to have someone say that. It’s hard to evaluate a situation from the inside. 😀

  7. Love you Julia!!

    • Love you too Franny! When are you guys going to head to the east coast to see us? 😀

  8. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. ☕️ I have loved the photos you shared and so happy to know of the visit from Drew and Grady. Your “little man” has changed so much since we saw him at Jeff’s service. Of course, It seems so natural to see him with a camera, must be inherited! I’m remembering a long ago photo of you with your “Brownie camera”. I’m sorry that I didn’t get a birthday card off to Matt, apologize to him for me, please. I would love to have your new address when it’s convenient. You are never far from my thoughts, dear friend! ♥️

    • Sheila, I do have a card with the new info that I got ready to send you, I’m just so far behind on sending it out. Hopefully you will get it before Christmas, hee-hee. Yes, I think the photography bug is somewhat inherited, although there are so many of us who have it, that it would difficult to prove that connection. You too are in my thoughts daily. Thanks for being here!

  9. Ann

    How wonderful that you and Matt were able to spend time with Drew and Grady. Also wonderful that Drew got to spend time with you and Matt! And Grady was a big winner too. Hopefully, this will be the first of many visits.

    • Thank you, Ann. Let’s hope so!

  10. Amy

    How handsome Grady is. Like his dad. I am glad he enjoyed the house and pool. Maybe next time they will get to visit the ice cream parlor. I have struggled with many questions in the last few years and I have tenaciously clung to the determination that God is in charge. He has a plan, he is coming back. I don’t know if that helps you to defeat your despair. I know there are dark days and faith finds a tenuous foothold on those days but love is strong and Gods Spirit is bigger than anything Satan throws at us. Psalm 121.8 Give Matt my love. I love you.

    • Thank you, Amy. I love you too.

  11. Harry Sims

    I’m sure I join with many others in prayer for you my dear Julia.


    • Thank you, Harry.

  12. Julia,
    You just added to your warm and wonderful side of your memory list. I hope it will continue to outweigh the contrary. My mom would describe a day such as yours with family as: “A Perfect Day!”

  13. Judy from Pennsylvania

    Julia, the photos you shared are sweet. Grady shows his personality in each of them. I love how he’s walking so confidently and with a big stride in front of his father as he pulls his own suitcase. He’s eager to go places! That is hinted at in the photo of him casually lying on the floor with his finger pointing at the puzzle map of the United States. Don’t you wonder how many of those states he will visit someday? And I’m sure he’ll document his travels with some sort of camera, just as he already did at the cemetery where he captured you, Drew and Matt visiting his grandpa’s grave. The baton has been passed and it will be fascinating to see how these traits develop as time unfolds!

    Grandchildren are the gifts that warm our hearts as our years and tears flow by. You have much to give to them and they will give much to you. It’s a blessed circle of love and encouragement.

    Thank you for sharing these photos with us. They have helped me reflect on the joys that my own grandchildren bring to me.

    God’s love shows up again and again.

    • Judy, thanks so much for sharing in the details of our time together. Yes, I was surprised at how quickly Grady could move on those very young legs. When we were out together he was able to keep pace with me or walk even faster and I could not figure out how he could do that without breaking into a run, since my legs are so much longer than his. At one point I filmed a short clip of him walking in front of me just so I could look back and enjoy again seeing his happy, confident pace. Both his parents love to travel so I’m sure that he must have a genetic predisposition (if such a thing exists) to be an explorer.

      I’m so happy that my photos brought joyful thoughts of your own grandchildren. And I deeply appreciate the reminder that “God’s love shows up again and again.” Thanks so much for being here with us.

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