There are some moments that I tuck away when I meet someone special. I had one of
those moments with Jay. He was my daughter’s father-in-law. He was bald and wore
dark-rimmed glasses. He always sported a pair of suspenders. His smile lit up the room.
He was a congeal man with a gentle spirit.
I first met Jay when our grandson, Arlo, was born. The day he came home from the
hospital, Jay held him nestled like a football. He began to sing a tender lullaby to the
six-pound baby in his arms. Arlo’s eyes were wide as he stared at his grandpa, mesmerized
by his alto crooning.
Jay’s voice was rich and smooth. He’d performed in the theater in plays and musicals.
I wish I’d snapped that picture because Jay passed away just a few months later.
The more I learned about Arlo’s other grandpop, the more I liked him.
As a judge, he’d done pro-bono work to help families. His family was surprised by
all the stories of gratitude at this funeral. He was a humble man with a kind heart.
Jay was always prepared. He had a habit of collecting batteries. If there was ever a storm
and the electricity went out, he had enough reserve for forty flashlights, fifteen clocks, or
thirty-two remote controls. Every time he and his wife went shopping, he added batteries
of any size to their cart. His family teased him about this obsession, but that didn’t stop
him from adding to his stock.
After Jay passed, and Arlo grew into a toddler, he channeled Jay’s fascination with batteries.
Any toy that broke, he claimed, “It needs a new battery.” It didn’t matter if it was a wooden
truck, a car, or a stuffed animal, sooner or later, they all needed a new battery.
One day a walking, talking, dinosaur, also named Arlo, stopped working. He was mid-stride
on his way across the living room floor when he froze. Arlo declared, “We need to keep
batteries in this house for emergencies! This is an emergency! Who’s in charge of batteries?”
I think Jay smiled in Heaven that day.
One day Jay’s family gathered for a picnic. These are the times unexpected grief can
snag us. We expect holidays and special occasions to be sad, but the simple times in life
often catch us off guard. Their presence is sorely missed.
This day, Arlo spotted a little robot up on the mantel. The robot supposedly could do
all types of tricks. They all gathered to watch the show when the robot’s batteries died
seconds after it started. “Doesn’t anyone have any batteries in this house?” he shouted.
“This is another emergency!”
Later, as dessert was served, Arlo piped in, “We don’t have any batteries at our house either!”
as if this were unfathomable. The second mention of batteries was a charm. “Oh my gosh!”
Jay’s son said as he broke into laughter. “You’re just like your grandpop!” That’s when
they reminisced about Jay’s fascination with collecting batteries and laughter filled the air.
I don’t think Jay missed that picnic at all. I like to imagine Jay bragging in Heaven,
“I spent the afternoon with my grandson today.”
Patricia Powers Smitj says
Love this story! It is so Jay! Thanks for reminding me of what a special guy he was.