It was the first evening of our trip to a beautiful beach house we have been blessed to visit the year before. My family and I were sitting on the patio admiring the first of many amazing sunsets God gifted to us during our way-too-short mini-vacation.
My grandson Ry Ry, who is 8 years old but going on 18, overheard a conversation between me and my son Aaron. We were reminiscing about our last January trip to the beach house. We talked about how serene it was for us to wake up before dawn and watch the sunrise. We did so while sitting in a jacuzzi overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I explained I was planning the same pre-dawn activity for the next morning.
While tugging on grandpa’s T-shirt and staring straight into my heart, curling his lower lip and with sad puppy eyes, Ry Ry pleaded, “I want to get up early and watch it with you tomorrow.”
I explained to him he would have to get up real early. It will be dark at first, but he would see the sun put a bazillion stars to bed. I also promised, “Mijo, you will see the sunrise wake up the seagulls, dolphins and surfers.”
He said, “OK. You promise ... right Grandpa?” “I promise,” I replied. And then he scurried off to play late into the night with his sister, brother and cousins.
I woke up the next morning and the house, which had been filled with the noise, fun and atmosphere of a Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Parlor just a few hours before, was completely silent except for the sound of the crashing waves coming from just outside the patio doors.
Did I really want to wake Ry Ry from what I knew would be a deep sleep?
My plan was to test the jacuzzi to make sure it wasn’t too hot or too cold for Ry Ry. I walked out to the patio and slid into the jacuzzi with full intentions to wake him. Dawn was just starting to crack.
As I slid in, I looked up and standing with his nose pressed against the patio doors with his bed head and still half asleep was Ry Ry in his Dodger pajamas. So as to not wake the others, I mouthed to him, “Go put on your swim trunks.” He disappeared and a minute later was sliding into the jacuzzi with his grateful grandpa.
As Ry Ry and I watched the crepuscular beach life awakening, our conversation went something like this:
“If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?” I asked.
“I wish I could fly,” responded Ry Ry.
“What is your favorite ride at Disneyland?” I asked.
“Pirates of the Caribbean,” he answered.
“What is your favorite part about being here?” I asked.
“Being with family,” Ry Ry responded.
His last answer caught me by surprise. He had spent the previous day playing on the beach with his cousins, watching for dolphins with his sister, playing cornhole with brother, aunts and uncles, and building sandcastles.
Ry Ry could have picked any of these activities in response to the “What’s your favorite part of being here” question. But instead, he simply said, “Being with family.”
With his answer, I turned my back to him so he couldn’t see Grandpa’s chest explode with pride and joy. I felt like I had traveled through a warm hole into the future. I can’t explain it but with Ry Ry’s answer, I knew with full certainty my family was going to be alright after I am gone.
What Ry Ry doesn’t know is he already has a superpower. Like many grandkids with their grandparents, they have the superpower to heal their hearts of any wounds or emotional neuropathy. Grandkids' superpowers make us realize our hearts are big enough to love beyond any expectation and when I think of my grandchildren and children, I am aware of the gatekeeper responsibilities I have to show love, compassion and humility in service to those in most need.
Ry Ry, I pray long after I am gone, you will remember sitting in the jacuzzi with grandpa early that morning. Mijo, you really do have a superpower.