A Grandfather's Intentionality

grandsons intentionality

Our oldest daughter and her family made the 10 hour trek north from Florida this July to spend a few days with my wife and me. She came with her three school-age sons. Our son-in-law was also able to join us which was a unique gift. His work has gone "virtual", and he spent most of the midday hours with a headset on which reminded me of a character from Lost in Space.

His headgear included a camera allowing him to virtually walk his work facilities with the face-mounted camera of one of his colleagues onsite. At moments I felt like I had been transported Back to the Future. Evenings were spent enjoying meals, conversations and occasionally board games.

When our grandsons occupy an enclosed space the decibel level rises significantly. If you do the math, multiply the elevated decibel level times 14 hours per day and you can end up with at least one motivation to come up with outdoor activities to initiate for them. Two factors made that task more challenging – summer in the southeast can be a bit warm and humid, and the COVID mandates for our state left many recreational activities unavailable. The most disappointing was not being able to take them swimming in a beautiful rock quarry pond I discovered while hiking in a nearby state park. The disappointment I felt at first angered me, and then motivated me to find a worthwhile alternative. 

I reached out to a friend who has some acreage and has a nice pond on his property. On the pond is a small dock and he also has a boat with an outboard motor. He said yes, and he looked forward to me bringing our family for the afternoon. 

Upon arriving at the property, our friend and his wife greeted us with an unexpected hospitality and enthusiasm. The couple is in their 70’s and he still remains active running a significant corporation. Yet he remained often present and very intentional about providing the best opportunity for our family to have fun.

Our daughter and her sons quickly peeled their outer layers of clothing and jumped enthusiastically into the pond. About 30 feet out from the deck was a floating island, made of the same buoyant materials used for pool noodles. The four of them spent lingering time hustling around the small surface of the island, splashing mom and exploring the depths of the waters around their refuge.

About an hour after we arrived, our friend came back out and offered the boys an opportunity to go tubing behind the boat. This pond is not that big, and I became curious about how this might work out. The middle son enthusiastically took him up on the offer, and his big brother chose to ride in the boat as spotter. Number three chose to remain on the dock with Papa and his mom. It was a delightful afternoon, and we returned home more than satisfied and a little bit exhausted. You know that really good kind of tired that makes you smile from the inside out.

The next day I rolled out a 50x4 foot sheet of plastic on our gently sloping back lawn to create what I promoted as “the longest water slide park” in our small, rural community. I’m still uncertain why I originally purchased this sheet plastic at our local big-box hardware store, but in that moment I was really glad to have it on hand. Probably one of the best $10 investments I’ve ever made. The boys spent at least 2 hours each day for the next three days sliding down that water slide with their Papa and our golden retriever enthusiastically cheering them on. I have some videos on my phone to prove it, and to remind me of that really beautiful moment with my grandsons.

I must confess I’m not always this intentional with them. I’m very thankful I made that choice this summer, and that I also chose to persevere through the inconvenient circumstances of 2020. God honored the desire of my heart and I doubt any of us will forget the treasured memories of our fun together.

Are you choosing to live intentionally with those you love? As men we are often inclined to follow the lead of the original Adam and live passively. Looking back we can see all the trouble Adam’s passivity has brought humanity. My challenge to you (and to myself) is to live intentionally with those you love. You won’t always “get it right”, but in those moments when you do it has potential to change the legacy of your family. And you just might have a ton of fun in the process.


Patrick O'Bryan
Restoration Project Chief Advocate