What’s really important

The state of our economy, government, career, bank account or something else?

I’m going with something else. My two-year-old grandson had a seizure this week and this spun my world totally off balance. Unanswered questions niggled as he lay comatose in a hospital bed. What caused the seizure? Had it dulled his sharp little mind? Would it happen again, and is this a hint of something worse?

We frequently hang out together. His baby brother takes a chunk of his parent’s attention so any offer to steal him away for a few hours is welcomed. It’s the strangest thing, the huge age gap between us that is so easily surpassed. Whatever interests one of us, the other embraces with ease. His two-year-old mind flits from one thing to the next and he’s always up for our next adventure or discovery.

Credit Gransnet

I’m the reader, he’s the listener.  In the car, I sing along with the radio and he joins in making up his own words. He sings, chatters and laughs a lot.  I dislike housework but he enjoys dusting and vacuuming, especially the car. Washing it is not a chore for him, it’s a treat. He also likes to drive, my car is his playground where I can watch him from the kitchen window figuring out how things work.

We both prefer being outside and unless it’s raining that’s where we are. Often gardening, we share the tools. Whatever I’m working with, pretty soon he will say “my turn” before swapping with me.  When he’s had enough, he simply gathers up the garden tools and puts them away. What he wants to do now is wander, to observe rather than participate, to take in the smells and sights of the ever-changing garden. So we check out how things are growing and when he wants to stop and smell the roses, that’s what we do. Together we explore, discover and absorb.

Being closer to the ground he notices things I don’t. He picks dandelion heads and I help him blow the seeds away when they won’t budge for him. He sits in a gravel path fingering and tossing tiny stones. He’s obsessed with diggers and has several toys to play with, but his preference is to watch an actual digger doing its work. He chooses reality over pretence any day.

He talks constantly about what he’s seeing and thinking. His vocabulary is growing but some of his words are different, like bunny-boon, his word for balloon. I try not to laugh when he parrots something his parents have told him, “finish now” he says with a serious face after eating a teaspoon of peanut butter, knowing that’s his limit.

Friends wonder if my frequent babysitting means I am being taken advantage of. What they mean is, why would I want more work? I simply say I enjoy caring for him, but it’s so much more than that.  What started as babysitting when he was a baby turned into a relationship that is growing with him.  It’s not arduous to spend time with someone you love, it’s a pleasure. It’s a chance to simplify, slow down and relax. Looking at life through his eyes is colourful, refreshing, funny, uplifting and fun.

He’s home now and although he needs further testing, it’s reassuring that he’s back to his energetic little self. The horrible thought that something was seriously wrong drifted away as he returned to normal. Apparently, it’s more common than you’d think for young children to seize. But it took the possibility of losing him to make me appreciate what we have. I assume he will be around long after I’ve gone, but the fragility of life means this is not necessarily the case.

It’s not the things we own, how we spend our money or what we do with our time that gives the most satisfaction in life. It’s the people we love who add colour, purpose and meaning to what we do. Everything else can be replaced, except our loved ones.  

A huge thank you to St Johns Ambulance, the NZ Fire Service who were first responders, and the staff at Auckland Starship Hospital. We are grateful to these wonderful people who worked quickly and efficiently to give the best possible care and attention in a very stressful situation.

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The subject evoked in the collage is the debating of political issues with friends in a public place

Pablo Picasso
Glass and bottle of Suze (after 18 November 1912)
pasted paper, gouache and charcoal

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.