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The season of Papaw

It’s great to be alive at 5

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This month, our twin grandchildren, Harper and Hudson, turned 5.

I feel certain we aren’t the only doting grandparents who understand how much the next generation enriches the present.

These two munchkins, our only grandchildren, bring something new and exciting to our lives with each passing stage of growth.

For Harper, watching her become an accomplished driver at age 4 was a thrill. Farm kids always drive early, something that is often a necessity with all the chores to be done.

In this case, the driving process evolved as the children accompanied Rich around the farm on our Kawasaki Mule. It started with Harper sitting on his lap and steering. She later learned to shift gears, and ultimately decided she could operate the pedals, too — all while Rich was just inches away watching over the process.

Hudson shows no interest in driving. He’s a free spirit who is happiest when he’s opening the electric fence gates, checking the mineral feeders or letting the grass brush through his fingers.

Adapting to the realities of COVID-19 is something families across the nation have had to navigate. For us, our extended family has made every effort to carefully follow CDC guidelines and still interact as an extended family.

The children stayed home for the first five months as Ashley worked remotely and Cole’s physical therapy job kept him busy. My work was crazy busy, so as the only retiree, Rich has been the lucky one who got to pitch in to help with child care.

I’m sure we will all think of 2020 as “the season of Papaw” as we reflect on this troubling and confusing time years from now.

He regales them with stories of their daddy when he was a boy and life in Montana where highlights were things like kids’ sheep riding contests, or adults competing in races riding on a shovel being pulled by a horse. They love the story about the time he drove a car in the demolition derby and all that he saw during his years as a long-haul trucker.

“Tell us again Papaw,” they plead, even after they’ve heard the story several times already.

Each day Rich gets to spend time with the kids, I jealously ask for every detail. While they read books, draw or occasionally watch cartoons, it seems most of their time is spent just “being.”

They work in the garden, check the fences, clear brush, stack wood and in between getting the work done there’s plenty of fun. Feed trough rides through the pasture, playing king of the mountain on the gravel pile, running up and down the cow trails on the hill, wading in the creek — oh the fun that they have.

At 5, this will probably be the last year before school becomes a major part of their days — and extracurricular activities and friends become far more exciting than working around the farm.

Hopefully the memories — and the lessons they have absorbed — are ones they will long cherish.

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