2017
two thousand seventeen
Twenty-Seventeen
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By John Addyman

   My grandson Jaden and I are spending our Thursday afternoons together.
   He’s 5.
   I pick him up after school, we run errands, play in the back yard, and have dinner. When my wife gets home from work at the bank, she takes over to make sure Jaden’s homework is all done. Then she gets him into the tub for a bath and reads stories to him.
   Jaden’s mom comes to get him about 8:15 p.m. She has college classes until then.
   Driving Jaden around has always been educational. 

   He sits in his car seat in the back of my car and passes along the latest news from school, his observations about what’s happening as we drive through town, and he often pontificates on the day’s issues.
   This last Thursday, we opened up a savings account for him at the credit union. It’s time he starts to learn some lessons about thrift. We have a ways to go.
   “I want to save money to buy a T-Rex,” he said.
   “This savings account isn’t for toys,” I told him, “it’s for your college.”
   “I don’t want to go to college,” he said.
   “Yes, you do. Do you know who went to college in our family?” I asked.
   “No.”
   Your Aunt Amy went to college, and so did Uncle Chad. Did you know that?” I asked.
   “No.”
   Do you think your mommy went to college?”
   “No,” Jaden said.
   “Where is she today?” I asked.
   Jaden thought about that for a minute. “She’s in school,” he said.
   “Is she teaching or is she in class?”
   Another pause from the back seat. “She’s in class,” he decided.
   “Right. She’s in a college class. Your mommy is going to college right now.” I told him. Last week Jaden and I made a quick tour of where I’m going to school and he met one of my teachers. He was very impressed. He also got to spend sometime with a skeleton.
   “How about your Uncle Mike? Did he go to college?”
   “No,” said Jaden, but he wasn’t so sure anymore.
   “Yes, he did. How about your Aunt Mary Kate?”
   Jaden started to sense there was a message coming, so he switched gears.
   “Yes,” Jaden said. The tide had turned.
   “Good! How about Aunt Jean and Uncle Al?” Did they go to college?”
   “Yes,” said Jaden. Now we were on a roll.
   “How about Granddad (that’s me) and Gammy (my wife, Gayle)?”
   Silence.
   Before I could tell him that my wife and I had gone to college, Jaden was off on another track.
   “Where are your mommy and daddy?” he asked me.
   I told him my parents were dead.
   “How did they die?” he asked.
   “My father had a heart attack,” I told him.
   “What’s a heart attack? What does that mean?” Jaden asked. “How did your daddy die?”
   “It means his heart stopped beating,” I told him.
   “How about your mommy?” he asked.
   “She had emphysema,” I told him. “She stopped breathing. Your mommy was one of the last people to hold her hand before she died.”
   “Are your mommy and daddy in heaven?” Jaden asked.
   “I think so,” I told him. “They tried to be very good people.”
   “Do you miss them?” he asked.
   “I do.”
   Jaden told me he was going to heaven. He said he and his mommy and Uncle Mike had made a pledge in church about going to heaven.
   “Good,” I told him.
   “When we go to your house, can I see a picture of your mommy and daddy?” Jaden asked me.
   “Of course,” I told him. “But why?”
   “So I know them when I meet them in heaven,” he said.   
   

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