April, 2002 + Austin, Texas
I had moved to Austin. Jeff, Sara, and I, with lots of help, had built a small home for me about thirty feet behind their house. Sam was close at hand and I loved it. To be near him, I had left a vocation and a cause that had given me purpose and fulfillment.
Sam's photo at three presents a boy with wide-open blue eyes, sandy blond hair, chubby cheeks, and an alert, curious manner. He is looking directly at the camera. He was attempting to climb through a wooden slat fence built to keep him contained. His look says, "Well, you caught me this time, but..."
Sam who was three at the time of this story, was playing outside in the yard between the two family homes on a glorious Texas spring day. The sky was aquamarine. The sun was warm, but not hot, maybe 80 degrees. Luminescent white clouds like satin drifted by. Birds were flying from tree to tree, lawn was growing into a deep green, early flowers brought an array of color. This back yard felt warm and cozy. All-in-all it was a great day to be alive and so close to my beloved grandson.
I watched him dance about in awe and wonder as young ones do. He was briskly and cautiously toward me. I knew a big moment was about to happen. I could see it in his sparkling eyes and hear it from his very first syllable:
"Grandpa, I've got a butterfly on my finger."
"Bring him in so I can see him."
"He loves me. He's so beautiful."
"He is beautiful, Sam."
"I feel special."
"You are special, Sam, to have a beautiful butterfly who loves you."
See what I mean about adding twenty years? Profoundly artless and sweet and wonderful was the sincerity of that moment. Wisdom is where you find it. I found it in the heart of this three year old. We shared a moment in the company of that delicate and iridescent creature. Like Sarah's chickadee, this wild and fragile little butterfly perched contentedly on Sam's finger. When our moment had been fulfilled, Sam whispered, "I'm going to take him outside, so he can go back to his family."