Yesterday I assembled a big box of presents for the Ledbetter family – gifts of network swag in addition to what I hope to be some thoughtful purchases. I wrapped them all; labeled them with their respective recipients and put them all in a big box for our mailroom to Santa them out of here. Each gift I chose, I had in mind what Billy would have given. It was a fun process, feeling his gentle guidance every step of the way. But I forgot about Grandpa until last night.
Billy approached his Grandpa’s gifts with special care, most of the time sending him hand made crafts that I saw displayed in Grandpa’s room at the convalescent home this year when I visited him again. He’s a stout man with sharp eyes and a slow gait. But there’s fire in those eyes and a reflection of Billy stared back at me. It was a moment of recognition and importance for me.
I didn’t panic last night when I realized my oversight. I had a few gifts that would be appropriate for Grandpa in my office. I came in today, wrapped up a nice box of chocolates and a t-shirt that was emblazoned with one of my company’s logos. I wrote in his card that I was a very good friend of his grandson, Bill’s, and I reminded him that we met this summer. I wrote him of the depth of love Billy had for him and how much of Grandpa was in Billy.
I called Becky today to find out his address. She gave me the name of the home but couldn’t remember the zip code.
“What’s Grandpa’s first name?” I asked.
After a pause, she said, “You know, I don’t know. Grandpa is all we call him.” I could hear her shrug.
I called the home for their zip code and asked the attendant what was Mr. Hopper’s first name.
“Bill,” the man said.
After all of these years, I didn’t know Billy had been named after his Grandpa. I don’t remember Billy ever telling me, and it’s a detail that could have easily been forgotten by me. Billy was his namesake and their bond suddenly became more apparent to me. Then I closed my office door and cried.
I hope Grandpa enjoys his t-shirt and chocolate.