Toward the end of our last visit south to see our grandkids Andrew, 7, and 5-year-old Lillian, Sue said, "I want to give you a two-minute warning."
I wasn't sure whether they had heard the expression or, if they had, that they knew what it meant.
"Papa and I have to leave in 20 minutes."
They may not have known what the "two-minute warning" was but "Papa and I are going to leave in 20 minutes" was clearer than the San Diego skyline after the rain.
Everyone got quiet. We had packed a lot in in the last 1½ hours on Sunday morning between 10 and 11:30 including Andrew and I replaying the final game of the Dodgers/Padres series, which was painful for this Dodger fan but less so if you were not, by representing our teams — Papa-Dodgers vs. Andrew-Padres — at the plate in a game of wiffle ball.
True to form, Andrew and the Padres won the game 28-5. I never got to the plate and when I did, I didn't do much and I didn't go off script either.
Neither did the weekend, which met and exceeded expectations. Reading stories, playing in the pool, and the boys and girls teaming up in the car while trying to predict when we'd arrive wherever we were going.
It was quiet until Andrew said, "Twenty minutes is a long time, isn't it?"
His was both a question and a statement. The question made sense because he does not have an adult sense of time yet. Twenty minutes can mean 20 minutes or it might mean the rest of the month.
As a statement, it's heartfelt too. Twenty minutes is a long time and we are going to make it last forever.
I turned my head. Andrew had seen me cry before. I just didn't want the last 20 minutes, whether his was a statement or a question, to end like that.
Papa and Mimi are supposed to be strong, aren't they? They're supposed to set an example, aren't they? If they are supposed to do all these things and be all these things, why do they sometimes fall short?
Earlier in the weekend we watched "Charlotte's Web." I had never seen the movie (it was great) but the book is a masterpiece. Gentle, funny and wise and full of lines like this: "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer."
However the line that snuck up on me was the one Beau Bridges, who played the family doctor delivered, in response to Fern's mother's concern that Fern was spending too much time in the barn with Wilbur having what the adults thought were imaginary conversations.
"What's wrong with her?" Fern's mother asked.
"Do you want to know the name of her condition? It's called a childhood phase. And sadly, it's something she'll grow out of," Bridges said.
Friends stopped by recently wheeling their new granddaughter who is now six months old. This is their first.
"John wants to tell you something," his wife said. "Go ahead, John."
"You were right," he said.
I had been ranting and raving, telling him how great it was to have a grandchild who probably will love you, and you will love them back, with all the ferocity of Manny Machado attacking a fastball.
Other friends are expecting, funny how I talk about friends expecting when they are grandparents but we have to stick together. In several months if everything goes Ok, they will join the team.
They may learn too. Twenty minutes or forever. Neither is long enough.