By Joe Rector
Our grandson Madden came for his annual summer visit. For two folks who haven’t had children in the house for a few years, keeping up with a young’un is sometimes difficult. For the most part, however, I think the boy has had a good time, and I know his grandparents have as well.
I’m sure my grandmothers and at least one grandfather loved us. The other male was so sour all the time that I’m not sure he liked anything or anyone in this world. Their love was never shown by taking time to play with us or take us to places. My brothers and I might stay at their houses if a situation arose. The Rector grandparents lived on Louisiana Avenue in Lonsdale; the Balch set lived on Cureton Road, no more than a mile from our house. Mother’s parents stayed with us and her through a simultaneous case of the mumps. I stayed with them during the day when I severely sprained my ankle. My paternal grandfather died when I was 5 or 6, so Mamaw Rector would come keep us boys when our parents had things to do. She was sweet as sugar and always complaining about her health.
Both women dipped snuff; Mamaw Rector watched soap operas and kept a gallon can beside her chair for spitting. Mamaw Balch was always finding something to do as she listened on radio to one preacher after another go on about the sins of the flesh and the flames in hell. Both women tolerated us, but they never were outspoken about their feelings toward us.
These days, grandparents work to come up with things for grandchildren to do. For some reason, children can’t stand to just sit with nothing to entertain them. Madden has this entire set up that he lugs with him. With those items he can play games over the Internet. I don’t even understand how he sets the whole thing up. However, the boy is quite satisfied when he is using the technology.
Amy believes that it is important to do things with him. This week we traveled to Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. For some reason the place seemed to be closed, so we hopped back in the car and left, but not before I told Madden that this was the kind of place he’d find his ass if he ever did something stupid. We traveled to Oak Ridge and rented a paddle boat. My legs gave out quickly, but the three of us rotated pedaling down the waterway.
The next day, we went to the zoo. For three hours Madden, with map in hand, led us through the place. I hadn’t been to the zoo in several years and was surprised at all the changes. Madden loved the trip and said Knoxville’s Zoo was far better than Nashville’s.
We still have a couple of days left to do things, but I am wearing out. The rain is supposed to set in, and that will limit our options of things to see. That’s okay. Madden is amazingly content and wouldn’t mind too much if we didn’t go anywhere.
For me, the best times have been swimming, riding in the car, and eating supper. It’s at those places that Madden talks with us about a world of things. He gets to know us better, and we do the same. Maybe my grandparents had it right: staying home and just talking were the ways to get better acquainted. I’m going to miss Madden when he goes home, but I need a bit of rest before tackling another week with him. I just hope he fondly remembers the times we were able to be together.