An elderly man tricks his daughter and spoiled grandchildren into visiting him in the country after a seven-year separation. Will they have enough time to enjoy each other?
Carl missed his daughter and his grandchildren. The last time he’d seen his family had been at his wife’s funeral, seven years ago. He had no other family.
Diane had moved to St. Louis straight after college, and she was now the CEO of an extremely successful company. She’d never liked the farm, and she’d never wanted to bring the children to the country for vacations.
While her mom had been alive, Diane had made an effort to come to the old farm in Georgia at least once a year. After her death, Diane drifted away. She phoned every week or zoomed, but, Carl felt it wasn’t the same.
He wanted to see her, and his grandsons. He was now eighty-two, and he felt that he might not have much longer to live. The doctor told him he was in good health for a man his age, but Carl was tired.
He called Diane and invited her to come for a visit. “Bring the boys, honey,” he said. “I miss them, and I miss you.”
Don’t waste the opportunity to spend time with those you love.
“I’m very busy, dad,” Diane said. “And I’m taking the boys to the Caribbean in the summer, but I promise we’ll come soon!”
But it had been two years since that conversation, and there had been no visit. Carl decided to take action. He called Diane on Zoom and told her he wasn’t feeling well.
“I don’t know, honey,” he said in a tremulous voice. “I fell down last night when I got up to go to the bathroom. I get dizzy all the time…”
“What does the doctor say?” Diane asked.
“I haven’t talked to him,” Carl said, “He’s an old alarmist…”
“Dad,” Diane said. “You go to the doctor right now.”
Carl stuck his lip out. “No!” he said. Then he started coughing violently. Two days later, Diane and the two boys flew down from St. Louis and arrived at the farm.
“Dad,” she cried, throwing her arms around him. “You worried me. Are you OK?”
“Yes,” Carl said smiling. “I went to see the doc yesterday, and he gave me some cough syrup. I’m just fine. Now, where are those grandsons of mine?”
Carl’s grandsons were standing by the rental car looking bored and less than enthusiastic to see him. “Boys!” Carl cried, and opened his arms wide, like he used to do when they were little.
But they didn’t run to hug him. Kieran, 14, looked at him and said: “Like, really, grandpa? I’m not five!”
Jason, 12, sneered. “Yeah…”
“Greet your grandpa, boys,” Diana said, but the two boys ignored her. They took their bags out of the trunk and headed for the house.
“You’d better have wi-fi,” he said. “Or we are out of here!”
Carl looked at Diane and winked. “I’m afraid there’s no internet in the house,” he said. “I don’t even have a computer!”
“Are you SERIOUS?” asked Kieran angrily. “What are we going to do for ten days stuck here?”
“You can help me around the farm,” Carl said. “I’m getting old, you know. I need someone to help me drive the tractor.”
“The tractor?” asked Jason eagerly. “Really?”
His brother gave him a shove. “If anyone is going to help grandpa drive the tractor it’s me!” he cried. “I’m the oldest!”
The next day both boys were out in the fields at daybreak with Carl, learning to drive the tractor, after that they went with him to feed the poultry. The chickens were alright, but both boys were terrified of the geese.
“You’ve got to toughen up, boys!” Carl said. “You city guys can’t say boo to a goose!” And he laughed so much he nearly fell off the tractor. After a while, the boys laughed too.
Soon, the boys were going down to the creek to fish with Carl, and diving into the water for a swim, as if they had lived on the farm their whole lives.
“I’ve never seen them so happy!” Diane exclaimed. “I hardly know my own boys!” She was watching as Kieran and Jason helped Carl to milk the cows, laughing and squirting each other.
“It does them good to put down their phones and their computers once in a while,” Carl said. “Be boys, play, and do some silly things. Helps them grow into men!”
“Thank you, dad,” Diana said, and kissed Carl on his whiskery cheek, “I love you!”
“I love you too, honey,” Carl said. “I wish you’d come to visit more often.”
“It’s just…” Diane sighed and tears came into her eyes. “It’s hard to face the old place without mom, you know?”
“I know,” Carl said. “I’m so grateful you came… Those boys make me feel like I’m twenty years old again!”
“Even though you conned me into thinking you were at death’s door,” laughed Diane. “You’re an old fake!”
Two days later, Diane and the boys went back to St. Louis. “I liked being here,” Kieran said. “When can we come back?”
“How about for Thanksgiving?” Diane asked.
But it was not to be. Two months after their visit, the doctor called Diane and told her that Carl had passed away in his sleep.
Diane started sobbing. “Oh dad,” she whispered. “I wasted so much time away from you! If only I had known…”
“Mom?” Kieran asked, concerned. “What’s going on?”
“We have to go back to Georgia,” Diane said.
“To see grandpa?” interrupted Jason excitedly.
“Oh, my dears,” Diane sobbed. “Grandpa has passed away!”
The two boys started crying, and put their arms around their mom. “I can’t believe we’ll never see him again, or play with him again,” Jason whispered. “I wish we’d had more time with him.”
“I’m going to miss him for the rest of my life,” Kieran said sadly. Carl would be remembered with much love by his grandchildren and live on in their hearts.
What can we learn from this story?
Don’t waste the opportunity to spend time with those you love. Life is short and you may not have another chance.
There is more to life than iPhones and electronics — learn to have fun! Kieran and Jason learned that fishing and playing on the farm were as exciting as any video game.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.