Reclaiming delight

My best teachers these days are my grandchildren. Since they range in age from one year up to twenty years, there is quite a range of what they have to teach.

The other night our eighteen-year-old granddaughter, Maddie, called to interview me for a project for school. She’s a freshman in college in her first year of nursing school. The assignment was for a psychology class and involved interviewing a grandparent about their life and the aging process. Her questions made me think a lot and drew things out of me that I hadn’t entirely claimed before.

When Maddie asked about the good parts of aging, I found myself saying that having more time to notice things and take joy in them was one of the very best things. The two grandchildren across the hall have been teaching me about that.

mateo in sunlight

Mateo, age one, laughs easily about the simplest things – peek-a-boo or sunbeams in his face. He teaches me to be silly again – to make funny faces and funny noises and then to laugh at them. It brings back memories of my own grandmother, Martha, playing with me and even more so playing with my children. The older Martha got the sillier she got. I start to realize that all this being so serious and adult all the time really stifles the little kid still trying to live inside of me.

Leila chocolate strawberry

Leila, age three, has a passionate love affair with chocolate. She rejoices in every bite of it, gets it all over her, wallows in it. Whether it’s dipping strawberries in it, drinking chocolate milk or having gelato at the Italian place down the street, she’s thrilled.

Every outing is an adventure for her. A few nights ago, walking home from dinner out, she radiated joy. She had a little plastic rake. We had to stop at every place there was dirt and rake it a little. Then we’d run ahead, hide and jump out yelling BOO! at her mother. Then she would walk along the top of a wall holding my hand and jump off at the end.

At what age did I start preferring more complicated pleasures – a trip to an exotic place, a gourmet meal or a fantastic dessert at a great restaurant – over the delight of sunbeams and chocolate in any of its forms? At what point did I stop delighting in the ordinary?

And what fun it is to find my way back to that. Today I took delight in the walk to the T, the feel of walking along swinging my arms, the forsythia just starting to bloom, the sun shining on my head, the friendly guy in the hardware store, and the healthy herb plants I bought there.

What delights you these days?

6 thoughts on “Reclaiming delight

  1. Dear Mitchells,

    This is Allie Horwitz. I’m so fascinated by the idea of living across the hall from one another. I really enjoy reading about your adventures.

    Sending you all hugs and love,

    Allie

  2. Bill,
    Delightful essay! How do I sign up for more? Also, what’s a good email address for you. I periodically send out a photo newsletter called “Adventures in Geezerland.” Thought you might enjoy seeing it.

    • Thanks, Gene (though the thanks come especially from Carol, who authored that post). Would love to get your newsletter: bmitch (at) gmail (dot) com. To get an email alert to new posts, just plug in your email address beneath the Subscribe area on the top right of acrossthehall.org.

  3. I loved this! Just came back from Childs’ first communion service in DC. The homily was about joy and perhaps the little bits of Easter joy tucked at the edges as we go about ordinary life. Your examples of joy in the images of walking to the T and the wonderful delight shining from little children who at all ages are such teachers! May we never stop learning. Thank you!

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