Billerica, Massachusetts is just an hour south of our home in York, Maine. Traveling to visit our daughter Molly and her family there is a piece of cake compared to the ten hours and 500 miles we used to travel to Virginia to see them. Now we have them in the “neighborhood.”
Leaving after the morning Boston commuter traffic, Hannah and I have major highways for 95% of the drive south (I-95, I-495, and route 3). The Family Rawding (aligned with the Family Von Trapp) rent an apartment in Bee town as transition housing until they find housing housing.
Another of the many benefits of being retired is that Hannah and I spend Tuesdays with our grandsons – two year old Owen and four month old Max. While Molly teaches in nearby Lexington, Tip is home with the boys. Coming down on Tuesdays allows us to free up Tip for errands, getting some exercise, or whatever he pleases.
Before we arrive at 1P, we stop at the Taco Bell to bring a little Mexico for lunch. While Owen finishes his nap and Max chills on a blanket in the living room, we enjoy our chicken and bean burritos with Tip.
Today by 2P Tip is off running errands while Hannah and I have the boys in their strollers heading to the playground on this 90 degree humid early September day. As we head to the playground, I notice Owen’s stroller’s rear left tire is as flat as a top-of-the-line Parisienne crepe. With the Universe looking out for us, we roll on towards Town Fair Tire just one hundred yards up the road. Wheeling both strollers into the showroom of tires, we ask Ethan if he can help us – we just need a quick blast of air. Delighted, Ethan smiles us in and takes the stroller to the backroom.
It gives Owen time to climb and hide among the mounds of tires. Soon Ethan is back with news that he has filled all three tires on Owen’s jogging stroller. We soon are talking strollers with this expectant father and leave, buoyed by our interaction.
On our way to the playground we stop at the recently reawakened Demoulas Grocery Store to get Owen a cookie from the bakery. While we thank the Demoulas workers for their standing strong in support of Arthur T. Demoulas, we learn that this older Demoulas store does not have a bakery. Thankfully we hadn’t promise Owen a cookie, but a checkout lady is taken by Owen’s sunny disposition and gives him an American flag.
As we leave with Owen waving his flag, the skies to the west are coal grey heading to black. A trip to the playground is definitely on hold. Not five minutes later, the first drops fall and then the deluge. Fortunately we are within fifty feet of a Bank of America drive-thru canopy. For the next half hour the heavens open up and we have a three foot stretch of dry pavement for the four of us and two strollers.
At this point, despite the heavy rain Owen is ready to be out of his stroller. You tell me what good grandparents should do? That’s right. We let Owen out and you can see the rest in the video below.
Soaked as he is, Owen settles back into the stroller; Hannah and I believe that the sloppy playground will have to wait for another day. With the sun now smiling on us (both literally and figuratively), we head to the Billerica Library across the Boston Road.
There Owen pushes colorful blocks along colored wires; he plays with Elmo and the alligator in the stuffed animals section of the library. The Billerica librarians welcome us with open arms and genuine smiles, even though Owen can be excited and loud with a capital E and a capital L.
His brother Max is no shrinking violet in the volume department when he is hungry. No one misses a beat as I feed Max a bottle of pumped breast milk.
Pushing strollers for home, we have just had three plus hours of the best days of our lives. No exaggeration. Most grandparents know what we mean.
Prior to bedtime, Owen rips around the living room while Molly feeds Max. Owen has just learned the word fantastic and draws out each syllable – Fan-tas-tic! Dinner is bits of a grilled cheese sandwich; Molly and Tip try to sell him on fish and humus. Owen loves his humus. Fish not so much. He washes it all down with some fine whole milk.
Hannah and I get to put Owen to bed for the night. First it’s changing him into a onesie and then into his pajamas. While we are getting him dressed, I say to Owen Stand up for America (so I can get his feet into his pajamas more easily.). Immediately he turns and points to his gift from Demoulas and says “American flag.” Like your children and grandchildren, ours are brilliant, too.
We read Little Blue Truck and Hand Hand Fingers Thumb and then it’s time for songs. As soon as we say it’s time for songs, Owen gets a big lower lip and cries out Mommy, Mommy, Mommy. Though we sing some old favorites like Old McDonald and Happy Birthday, Owen knows singing means he’s heading to his crib for the night. The cries for Mommy crescendo and fill the apartment.
Shortly Mom and Dad come into say good night and attempt to soothe him. No dice. He’ll protest for 20 minutes and then, as my mother used to say, he gives up the ghost and falls asleep.
We share a glass of wine with Molly and Tip and enjoy the spaghetti dinner Hannah has made for us all. This night we pick fantasy football teams and don’t leave til 945P. It’s near 11P before we head to bed back in York.
Owen has it right; to be Owen and Max’s grandparents is fantastic .
In thirteen seconds this video captures the joy that is Owen Daniel Rawding.