I met Tristan in 2004 when I helped begin a study program at Highland Community College in northeastern Kansas. He, Shayne and Dione were my first study group leaders there and all three were cut from similar cloth. In addition to being football players, they were young men of exceptional character and intelligence, ideal candidates to lead the study sessions for our special summer program that consisted almost entirely of freshmen football players. And darn good looking, too.
I’ve maintained some level of contact with all three—and a few other younger friends from those days. Last evening, I carved out an opportunity to visit with Tristan, his lovely wife Katie and their toddler Ty. While his parents and I visited on the deck on a lovely evening, Ty occupied himself with a variety of activities, some of which required greater parental alertness than others.
The little fellow is full blond, full of energy and fully as cute as you’d expect Tristan and Katie’s kid to be. By a crafty series of little silly things, including peek-a-boo at the base of a maple tree, I eventually enticed Ty to come to me. I started out with some little “airplane” whirls about the deck and then in the yard. By the time the grilled meatloaf was done, we’d taken the long tour around the yard, collecting flowers for Katie.
Ty is a bit short yet on conversational skills but not entirely deficit in the manner of communication. I walked along the tree break while he sat on my shoulders with his little legs wrapped around my neck. Each time he’d see a bloom of some kind, he’d point and say emphatically, “Mah’muh.” By the time we made our way around the perimeter of trees and bushes, he had a daisy, a slightly wilted iris, a couple of wildflowers and a few honeysuckle blooms. He seemed nearly as proud of his offerings as was his mother. “You found an iris!” Katie exclaimed, and added the new blooms to the collection sitting in a small jar by the kitchen window.
Our timing worked out well as Tristan finished up at the grill and Katie filled our plates for the patio table. We ate and visited, sitting outside on a beautiful spring evening in central Kansas. I tried to remember why it had taken me over a year to get back to visiting with them. I knew the excuses but I was having trouble with the reasons. Whatever it was, I resolved to quit cheating myself so much.
Time spent with those we love is time well spent. There is comfort and healing, balm and blessing in sharing such affection. Bonds are built that endure the separations of our busy-ness. Whatever else it is that fills our lives, there is little else so enriching and so rewarding as the indulgences of family and friendship, joy and love.
Whether with those whose parents I’ve “adopted” over the years or with my own children and grandchildren, I have spent too little time with small hands clutching at my hair and feeling the liberating weight of tiny feet draped so closely to my heart.