A few days ago, I was holding our youngest grandson as he slept. He was lying on my shoulder as I reclined in a chair at our daughter’s house. She saw us together and said to me, “Isn’t that just the best feeling in the world?” I had to agree. It is among the sweetest of life’s pleasures to hold a sleeping infant. The moment was emotionally charged for many reasons. We had waited for her to come into our lives. We had waited for our grandson to come into our lives. At the time she was making the comment, she was short on sleep and being short on sleep always brings the emotions closer to the surface.

What I didn’t tell her at the time was something that I don’t really need to tell her. She will learn it on her own in the due course of time. That is that there are other moments of incredible pleasure in the journey of being a parent. Another of those deep pleasures was ours yesterday after we arrived at Vancouver International Airport. We had experienced an exceptionally long day, leaving Tokyo after 6 pm and flying into Vancouver a bit before noon the same day. As soon as we were off the plane, we began a process of waling through the airport and standing in lines as we entered Canada as foreign nationals, with USA passports. We had to clear immigration and customs, retrieve our luggage and be processed into the country along with several thousand others who were arriving on some of the many international flights arriving from around the globe. We’ve been through customs in Canada several other times and are familiar with the process. One difference between customs in Canada and the USA is the attitude of the customs authorities. In the USA, customs and border authorities are all business. You learn not to say more than is required to answer their questions. You follow instructions and don’t make any problems. In Canada, as we waited in line, customs officials would come by periodically and apologize for the long lines and assure us that more agents were being assigned to speed up the process.

Then we were through the process and we made our way across Canada’s third busiest International airport to the place were our son and his two eldest children were waiting to give us a ride back into the USA. Since leaving our daughter’s home on Sunday, we had ridden on trains, experienced the intensity of Tokyo, been processed out of Japan, flown across an ocean and the International Date line, landed and cleared Canadian customs with thousands of other people. We had seen tens of thousands of people in that time and all of them were strangers. From the time we said good bye to our daughter’s family at the train station in Misawa, Japan to the time we greed our son’s family in Vancouver, British Columbia, we had not seen anyone who was not a stranger to us. Even though we still had to make the journey across the border to our son’s home, we felt like we were at home as our grandson and granddaughter ran to greet us. It is one of life’s exquisite pleasures, equal to that of holding a sleeping baby, to be greeted by your grandchildren.

Another of those incredible pleasures comes from the process of witnessing our children as they engage in the process of being parents themselves. Life in a family requires patience and understanding and putting the needs of others ahead of your own. It involves balancing work and home and living in a complex system of relationships. Our children are both really great parents and it is a true joy to watch them living and working with their families.

Of course there are plenty of trials ahead for our daughter as she raises her son. She is already experiencing a week of hard work and little sleep. Her husband is working 12-hour shifts this week. She is caring for the baby at night so he can get his sleep and all day long while he works. We were there to help last week, but now she doesn’t have our help. She is tired and will get even more tired as the week unfolds. Her patience will be tried by her baby and the circumstances of her life. There will be many more weeks like this in her life as a mother. She already knows that although we love her deeply and do what we are able to support her, there are times when she is on her own with big responsibilities in life.

We know also that the joys of our family life are not something that we have somehow “earned.” There are good parents who experience all kinds of trials and problems that we have never had to face. We have been blessed to have a family that has been free from some of the world’s worst diseases and illnesses. We did nothing to earn this wonderful gift. There are lots of good people who have experienced terrible things through no fault of their own.

Last evening, as we sat at the dinner table with our son’s family, enjoying huge salads with rich bounty from their garden and reveling in the joy of being together, we shared a ritual that is part of every evening’s dinner in their home. Each person at the table said a few things for which we are thankful. One of our granddaughters was thankful for the gifts and souvenirs we brought them from Japan. Our son was grateful for our safe travel and for the ease of the process of their going two and from Canada without problems. My wife spoke of the joy of being greeted by family after a long day of many strangers. I spoke of the joy of watching our children in their role as parents. The process is a slight variation of the thanksgiving prayers we said at our dinner table when our children were young and at home, but the meaning is the same.

One of our prayers is this:

We thank you God for happy hearts
For rain and sunny weather
We thank you God for this our food
And that we are together.

How thankful we are for the many blessings of this life!

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!