by Randy Chambers, 2004-08-02
His hands were age-spot-ridden and weathered by time, and they seemed enormous in
comparison to the one-week-old puppy he scooped up from the litter. Here ya are,
Toby. Granddad stretched out his arms toward Toby, carefully unfolding his hands
from around the pup. Now be real gentle there young man. Dont wanna break
Tobys eyes widened as he very slowly reached toward the puppy. He looked up at
Granddad to see him warmly smiling back.
Whatll you name it? Granddad asked.
Toby smiled and thought for a moment. Can we call him Walt? Toby asked.
Granddad looked back at him curiously, Now why would you want to name him
Tobys eyes dropped.
Granddad looked at Toby and smiled warmly. Of course we can call him Walt,
Granddad agreed. Tobys eyes sprang back to life again.
Walt and Toby grew up and older--Granddad stayed the same. Another pair could not have
portrayed the stereotypical tie between a boy and his dog any better. Walt and Toby did
everything together. Theyd spend hours of every summer day exploring along the
winding country roads that snaked around Granddads farm. Winter days were filled
with snow and cold, running outside to play, and inside only long enough to warm before
going out again. Each weekday Walt met Toby at the door when he got home from school. And
they would play until supper, and at supper Walt would beg. After supper Walt would keep
Toby company while Toby did his homework. And they would go to bed, and they would get up,
and they would do it all again--and life was good. But life is sometimes like the winding
country roads, where drivers often cannot see what lies around the bend--another car, a
dog, a boy
Walt was a good dog, Granddad said with somber tone.
He was a great dog! Toby snapped. A scowl of hurt, confusion and pain gripped
In Tobys young, ten-year-old heart, there was not much room to receive words of
comfort at a time such as it was. Granddad seemed to know it, too. His eyes welled up a
bit as he looked at Tobys face. Without a word, he simply placed his hand--his old,
weathered hand--on Tobys shoulder, and drew him near. Somehow there was some magic
in that moment. Granddads loving hand conveyed so very much, and though Toby hurt,
he felt a sense of peace in Granddads touch.
Time moved on and healed the wounds, as is its job to do. Toby grew to be a man, shaped
heavily by the life-lessons he learned while simply watching Granddad day to day. He
married a wonderful young woman, named Marcy, who gave him a son. They named him Walter
Toby Matthews. Toby could not believe how small and frail a human being could ever be.
Here you are, Granddad, Toby said as reached out to place his son into his
Granddads hands. Now be real gentle there. Dont wanna break it,
Granddad just smiled back.
Walter Toby, say hi to great-granddad Walter.
Tobys eyes welled up a bit as he watched. Granddad could barely see, but he held his
great-grandson close and soaked in as much as his old eyes would let him. He couldnt
hold him very long, so Toby took the baby back, gave him to his mother, and sat back down
beside Granddads bed.
Comfortable Granddad? Toby asked.
Granddad nodded, reached out his hand and took hold of Tobys hand, and fell asleep.
Toby looked at their hands together, until the nurse came in.
You ok to go now? the nurse asked.
Yeah, Toby replied, probably ought to make some calls and let the family
know hes gone.
As he walked down the hospital hall, he thought about his Granddad holding his hand when
he passed on. He thought of how it seemed that through the years, Granddads hand was
with him--instructing, comforting, guiding
And in that moment of delightful
reminiscing, he considered the hand of the Heavenly Father, which drew his attention to
the lessons taught along the way. The gentle love for a puppy, the comforting hug in time
of tragedy, the gift of the last few hours at Granddads side; in all of it
Gods hand was at workteaching him how he himself would one day be the teacher
of such grand, Grandfatherly things.