Grampa, Will You Still Love Me When You Die?
A terminal conversation about love
The word ‘love’ has many meanings for big people, but not so for little ones. Just for the record, I haven’t caught a killer illness – even though I had a narrow escape.
Of course, chats between grampas and grandkids happen constantly. For instance like the time the darts hit the TV and a thoughtful moment.
Out of the mouths … (of babes and sucklings)
As ever, we ramble away about almost anything and, somehow, stumble on to the topic of death and dying. My wee pal links it to love. We sit, watching the “birdies” after we’d topped up the feeders.
As you’ll know, there aren’t many boundaries in chats with a four-year-old, not even the end.
Love in mind
‘If we didn’t feed the birdies, they’d die.’
‘Maybe, at least when we feed them they’re not so hungry.’
‘But they might die?’
‘Yes, they might.’
‘Grandpa, why do people die?’ She’s sat on my knee snuggled in. Oh my, where did that come from?
‘We all die one day, it’s how things are,’ she nods.
‘Will I die?’
‘Well … yes … I think so, but that’s a long way off.’ I have to say, she doesn’t look concerned. ‘I’ll die long before you.’
‘You love me, don’t you?’ She lifts her little head and gazes up into my eyes. Talk about windows of the soul.
‘You know I do.’
‘When you’re dead, will you still love me.’ Wow, that’s a huge philosophical ask. I give her a wee squeeze, connect once more with large, luminous eyes searching mine for an answer. What’s an old man to do but bestow a gentle smile of reassurance. ‘Of course I will.’
‘Will you tell me a story about a princess?’ … Ahh, the magical sign of an accepted answer. Our terminal conversation is over. In me, a thoughtful feeling stirs … such trust.