My fiancée, Liz, and I were sitting in a restaurant not long ago when a local woman stopped by our table.
"When are you going to write some more about your grandchildren?" our friend asked me. "I like those stories."
I realize that Sunday is Easter and that, being a minister, I ought to have something profound to say about the holiest day on the Christian calendar.
I also realize that one person requesting a piece about a given topic doesn't constitute a mandate from the reading public.
But it doesn't take much to start me talking about my grandkids. They're pretty much my favorite topic, pretty much any time.
As many of you already know, I have only one son but three grandchildren: Harper, almost 21/2; Hadley, 17 months; and Hudson, 4 months.
Hudson is just beginning to develop a clearly identifiable personality. He's a jolly little fellow.
He likes you to hold him in a standing position. Do that and he'll squiggle and coo and kick. His eyes are bright, and it's easy to engage his attention. Smile at him and he invariably grins back.
But right now it's the two girls who are really coming into their own.
Last Saturday afternoon I kept them at their house while my son, John, my daughter-in-law, Cassie, and Hudson went to Lexington shopping.
"It's time for lunch," I told Harper not long after I'd arrived and before the rest of the crew departed. "What do you want?"
"Ice cream. Cake."
"I'm not sure that's a good idea," I said.
She started jabbering.
Turned out — I still can't make out every word she says, but John helped interpret — she was claiming it was her birthday, although she was born in November.
John said she thinks nearly every day is her birthday.
Which, when you consider it, isn't a bad approach to life.
We ended up settling for green beans and orange slices, and Harper took this in stride. But ice cream and cake was worth a try, I suppose.
Hadley has figured out which button on the TV turns it off.
She knows she's not supposed to mess with the television, yet the allure of making the screen go black is too much for her.
She'll amble over to the TV, stand there innocently until she's sure no one's paying attention, and then shoot out her hand and click the button. As the TV shuts down, she'll scurry back across the room and put herself in time-out.
I visit the kids every Saturday. If I'm lucky I make it during the week, too. But I get there every Saturday.
If the girls know ahead of time I'm on my way, they stand at the front door, waiting. When they see me, their faces beam.
"Papa!" they yell.
I told a buddy there's no other place on earth that I go where anybody's that glad to see me.
And there's no guile involved. They have no hidden agendas. They're just delighted I've stopped by.
Harper will demand, "Take glasses off! Get beanbag! Play monkey!"
The girls like for me to lie on my stomach across a pink beanbag in their play room. They pretend to be monkeys — and use me for their trampoline.
They wallow on me, jump up and down on my legs, back and head. They screech "Ooh-ooh! Ah-ah!" They keep this up until we're all exhausted.
When we're done-for with the monkey game, one of them will say, "Read book."
So we all sit on the floor and read a book. Or five.
Harper will throw her arms around my neck and say, "I love you, Papa."
On a visit not long ago, instead of heading immediately for the beanbag, I plopped into an easy chair in the living room. The girls climbed into my lap.
"I've got to give my grandbabies a hug," I said.
I scrunched them against my chest, one in each arm.
Harper was distracted by something on television. But when I released the girls, Hadley looked up at me and giggled.
"Again," she said.
"You want another hug?"
I hugged her.
She looked up at me. "Again," she said.
I hugged her.
We repeated this I don't know how many times.
It seemed she'd never get bored with Papa hugging her.
But of course, finally she did. Satisfied, she slid off my knee and toddled away.
What she had no way of comprehending — what she won't understand for 50 or 60 more years — is that Papa's desire to give her hugs will always, inevitably outlast her endurance for receiving them.