LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — It’s been three weeks since my Texans were here for a couple of days and I’m still basking in the after-glow.
My daughter, Genny; her husband, Scott Tesh; and their three kids, son Mazzen who is 11; son Ramzy, 8; and daughter Isabel (Izzy), 2.4, but going on 12. The Maz is into basketball and iPads, Ramzo is into guitar and iPads and Izzy-ka-dizzy-ka-do is into absolutely everything that isn’t securely locked and bolted down.
Genny teaches American Culture and English to international students at the University of Houston. Scott calls himself a “geek whisperer” for Dell where he develops and teaches online seminars for computer technicians across the country and around the world that enable them to communicate with folks like you and me.
They are both extremely busy and it’s usually difficult for them get away from work and the boys away from school all at the same time. They managed 9 consecutive days off in August, four of which were on the road and five thinly spread visiting a host of friend and relatives in Tennessee and Kentucky. Two days with me is easily the best present I’ll get this year and far better medicine than anything injected or out of a pill bottle.
We put up lots of photographs on Facebook and exchange email and have the occasional phone call so it’s easy enough to keep up with health issues and sort of know what’s going from year to year, but there’s nothing to compare with 36 hours or so of touching-hugging-talking-laughing-eating together, broken up only with a scant few hours of sleep.
I hadn’t seen them in over a year. In fact, Izzy wasn’t even a year old, but when they pulled into my driveway she was yelling “Grandpa! Grandpa! Grandpa!” Her little arms stretched out as she tried to wiggle out of her kiddy seat. I slid the van door open and those arms were around my neck as she glared at her Mom and brothers and proclaimed “This is MY Grandpa. Allllllll mine.” In other words don’t even think about getting any of MY Grandpa.
I’d been a bit worried that Izzy would be shy and standoffish because she certainly wasn’t old enough for me to have made much of an impression during only the handful of times we’d connected when she was an infant. But apparently her mom and brothers have made sure that she’s seen pictures and they have made me enough of a subject in conversation that she knew exactly who I was the instant she saw me. And it has been a long, long time since anything has touched me so deeply.
I’m sure the boys had told her, “there stands Grandpa,” because I was impatiently waiting in the yard as they drove up. Or maybe it’s just plain ole chemistry that I’ve always had with the little girls in the family. Both Genny and Jennifer were like the ultimate Daddy’s Girls when they were growing up. All I know for sure is that Izzy-ka-dizzy-ka-do was either in my lap, hanging onto my pant leg or holding my hand for at least half the time my Texans were here. She spent a little time riding my shoulders with her legs wrapped around my neck but not as much as she might have if I wasn’t coping with Mr. Parkinson 24-7.
Izzy’s Mom, Dad and big brothers don’t do baby talk nor does her Spanish speaking day care provider. And all five of them dote on her. She speaks in complete sentences and she’s growing up with two languages. Genny whispered to me, “ask Izzy if she can count to 10. So I did and she immediately did just that — in Spanish.
In the early afternoon before they got ready to hit the road, we all went for a walk. Loretta had us posing here and there for photos as we trooped the three-quarter mile loop of Charlie Brown Road and Old Railroad Grade.
All through the visit I’d been sing-songing “Izzy-ka-dizzy-ka do. She simply don’t know what to do.
She can’t even tie her little shoe. No strings. She’s Izzy-ka-dizzy-ka do.” And I’d come up with some other lines because Izzy was so absolutely delighted to be the subject of a song and she’d demand that I “please sing the Izzy song again.”
So we’re walking along the road. Genny holding one of Izzy’s hands and me the other one and we’re pretty quiet because we knew that in a hour or two the visit would be over but Izzy broke the silence and the melancholy and you could have heard all of us laughing when she broke into song, exactly the same tune I’d been using.
“Mommy-ka-yummy-ka –mooo,” she sang and our blues simply evaporated like a drop of water hitting a red hot stove.