Tradition. That’s why Ezra, aged six years and eight hours, sits at our table, eying his breakfast: a vast bowl of Neapolitan ice cream. He chose that yesterday in the store, over my suggestions of more sophisticated options. “How about maple walnut? Black cherry? Rocky road?” But, no. He had his eye on the striped stuff.
In his family, ice cream is always the breakfast entre on birthdays. The entre, the side, and the dessert. And since tradition is portable, the custom followed him to Nana’s house.
I sit with him as he eats. I wonder how this littlest bean, the youngest of six siblings, could have reached six so quickly? Amazed at how much he already knows, realizing that in these formative years, more information has been stuffed into his knowledge bank than will be deposited the rest of his life.
A puff of days, of God’s good grace, and six years post-birth, we sit discussing big stuff. Giant hogweed and phototoxic sap. “It gives you third-degree burns, Nana. You grew up with poison ivy, Nana, but I have to grow up knowing ‘bout giant hogweed. Thankfully, it’s not in Saskatchewan yet. Maybe when I’m an adult, they will have obliterated it.”
Then he jumps to microscopic things. “Nana, you have moss on your big tree. You maybe have a tiny animal living in it.”
”A tiny animal?”
“Tardigrades,” he says. “Basically, they’re only the size of a pin tip. That is very small. They live in moss. Some people call them moss piglets.”
I had to look those up. He’s right. I feel like something microscopic myself. But he quickly shifts gears. “Basically, Jericho was smaller than Melville, Nana. I heard about it. And also there is……”
“You’re amazing, Ezra.” I tell him. “Do you know that God has a fantastical plan for your life?” He smiles.
Ezra has stayed with me for three days now. In Rick’s absence, I had him all to myself. I’m nearly a Harvard scholar by now, I think. A tired one. I love this little bean to bits, but what I noted in the column I wrote at the time of his birth is even truer now:
Throughout these busy grandparenting years his grandfather and I have developed an energy crisis. We run out of batteries a tad sooner (a big tad sooner) than the children and need to recharge more often, especially after recess lets out at our house. Some days it takes three days to recharge, in fact. But having a large and loving family of active human be’ins has incalculable rewards. Great conversations, for one.
Ezra, you make Nana and Gampa’s hearts sing, even when we’re too tired to show it. Our prayers will follow you as long as we can string the words together. And when our batteries won’t recharge on earth, ever again, they’ll live on in God’s ears.
That’s tradition, too. God’s and ours.