End of story?
Last year the Intruder motorhome I bought kind of fell apart and earned the name In-Turd-er. Bad luck. Right? Not really. Over the next eight months, it was transformed into GrandpaLyle’s Ark. And I love the Ark.
While the In-Turd-er was sidelined, I was fortunate enough to join a Solid Rock Carpenters trip to Guatemala where we built two homes for two families in three days. It was amazing. These were not huts – they had concrete floors, tin roofs, three rooms and electricity.
The real story for me, however, was not in building houses. It was in discovering just how little I knew about myself. Home-building trips are always arduous, involving crowded flights, interminable school bus rides and living accommodations that make primitive camping look like a spa trip.
Day one on the job was simple: level the rocky ground and pour a concrete slab. I’ve done concrete work before – decades ago – and it was hard then. It’s for young, strong, macho dudes. This trip I did my best to keep up with the girls shoveling sand. Right up to the point where one said, “Lyle, you’d better take a break. Your face is beet red.” So I did. For the rest of the day.
After dinner, the team broke up into small groups. Adventurous ones walked into town, some played games, others just sat around talking, a few retired for the night. Instead of acting my age and heading for bed I wandered around hoping to find some “action.”
The best part of my day was yet to come. Kylie, Adrianna, Alex and Matt, all kids (remember, that’s anyone under 30!), allowed me to join their conversation. It was lively. It was exciting. I was part of the scene – hanging out with “the popular kids.” I felt so young and cool.
Right up to the moment Kylie asked if she could adopt me as her Grandpa.
Although I have six grandchildren at home, until then I don’t think I really knew what grandpa-ing was. For the remainder of the trip, my newly adopted grandkids included me in everything they did. They patiently nurtured grandpa when aging bones called for a slow-down. Then they just as patiently listened to stories that sent my kids into “yada, yada, yada” mode. They were taking care of me.
The whole scene felt surreal. I didn’t feel old. But I was clearly not one of the kids. Not even one of the parents. I was a grandpa. And it was wonderful. Never again did I have to worry about jousting with the guys to be at the top of the heap. Nor be a superhero to win a girl’s affections. I was cool just for who I was.
Is that lucky or what?