It was a great day for playing at the beach. We set up and then headed down near the water to dig and make castles and a lake. We like to make our own little lake to splash in. Our lake was so cool it attracted other kids. One little boy’s name was Liam. Liam was older but he played with us for quite awhile. Then he asked, “What’s his phone number?” I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly, but he repeated it, and sure enough, he was asking for my grandson’s phone number. I resisted. What was he? Some kind of a toddler stalker?! Instead, I introduced him to my grandson, Kasen. But he persisted. He wanted his phone number, and now, sounding a bit irritated, asked if I knew his phone number. Then he explained that he was from Riverside and wanted it so the next time he came to the beach he could call him to play. Ah! Finally it made some sense but still weirded me out a bit. I did not give in. I told him Kasen did not live nearby and that he would have to call me if he wanted to play because I was the one who lived close by. He didn’t want my phone number.
Kasen wanted to go and play in the water so we left Liam and our little lake and went to play in the waves. Kasen started out pretty timid but gradually he gained courage and we went farther and farther out to encounter bigger and bigger waves. Trust me. I had a firm grip on both of his arms but we ventured out far enough for him to get wet up to his neck. His fear diminished and his delight increased proportionately. If not for my 60-year-old back we could have played in the waves for hours. But what the heart wants the back can rarely support. We headed back to the beach and our little lake.
We played there for quite awhile longer. No sign of Liam. And when I began to feel the effect of the sun on my back and arms we packed up to head home. Kasen did not want to quit but after a lengthy reassurance that we would come again next time he visited we headed home.
On our way down the beach trail we passed a young man standing at one of those work-out stations. He was not working out at the moment. But he was pretty ripped. Kasen saw him and stopped and said, “Hi.” The young man smiled, but did not respond. When I caught up I smiled and said hello, but I still did not hear him respond. I pointed to Kasen and said, “Mr. Congeniality.” The young man just kept smiling. Kasen took my hand and looked right at the man and said, “This is my Cece.” We started walking again, and as we left the young man still smiling and saying nothing, Kasen repeated, with more inflexion this time, “ This is MY Cece, my Grandma Cece.”Then he added, “I love you, Cece.” I don’t care how ripped or young that guy was. At that moment my weak and aching back was greatly strengthened. I felt like Mrs. America and the coolest person on the beach and crazy with love for this little guy who declares to young men on the beach that I am HIS Cece and that he loves me.