February 23, 2024
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The most important things in this life are the small things. To be blind to those is the worst sort of blindness.

If you’d come to our house on a recent Saturday in the midst of a very hot August, you would have noticed something large in the back yard. Rising high above the back fence, easily seen from the street in front, was a “blow up” water slide. The thing was huge, taller than our house. And it was loud. The blower fan was making its presence known, but louder still were the giggles and laughter and joyful screams of eighteen kids, from two years old to sixty-seven.

Every summer, we try to get our grandkids here one at a time for a couple or three days each. I love those times.

But we also try to have a day or a few during the summer when all of them come at once. This year we had a one-day blowout with parents and all. Burgers, hot dogs, three kinds of homemade ice cream—and that massive water slide.

The kids have always loved what MawMaw does to make these times happen. She’s the prime force, and I think they’re seeing ever more clearly how much she does. I just do what she says, contributing a little minor work along the way—and play. She does a million small things to make the big thing happen.

It’s been several years since we last arranged for that slide to be here. The first time, we’d imported the grandkids without parents. We got them all in bed the night before the slide day. That’s when I decided it would be a good idea to hook my little toe hard on a doorframe just before bedtime. It hurt. And the 45-degree angle it assumed seemed unnatural. Yep. Broken. Medical confirmation and a plan. Buddy tape it to the adjacent toe and be glad when days later it quit hurting. (Still aches occasionally.) I was not about to forego the water-sliding fun, but I had to climb up the thing on my knees—which I did, many, many times. This year, I got to ascend the thing using both feet, a noticeable improvement.

That slide literally took up most of the yard. It was a very big thing. But the very best things about the day were the small things. Like this…

The sliding was well underway, though I’d not jumped in or on or down yet. I knew I would, but I was seeing to something inside the house when an eight-year-old princess popped through the door and simply asked, “PawPaw, will you play with me?”

It was not a hard decision. I geared up to get drenched and headed out the back door. I climbed up the slide with that little gal and a gaggle of other grands, and several of us perched up at the top for a while. It’s surprisingly comfortable up there. If people would quit squirting you with water, and jumping on you, and throwing your floppy hat down into the mini-lake below, you could almost take a nap up there. Sure, if you get four or five hundred pounds of adults up at the top also, some load balancing becomes a good idea. But at the pinnacle, it’s shaded and cool, though moist. The view is excellent, and, yes, the company, though rambunctious, is better than excellent.

One by one, they squeal and scream, slide down, and splash into the little lake at the bottom of the mountain. That’s a cold splash.

But up at the top, just before you and that eight-year-old gal are about to take the plunge, comes a warm hug, and a sweet little voice, “PawPaw, I love you.”

That, friends, is no small thing. Of course, I’ve had many such beautiful moments with each of these truly “grand” people. Each of them amazes me in different ways and catches me wonderfully by surprise at different times. But every one of those many moments is golden.

I can’t imagine a more beautiful gift from God.

Curtis K. Shelburne

Muleshoe Journal Columnist

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