On our Saturday morning walk, my granddaughter suddenly asked me to mime a horse. I trotted beside her, the soles of my boots slapping against the pavement in an irregular rhythm reminiscent of clicking cocoanut halves in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, while I periodically neighed and flapped my lips in true horsy fashion.
“Do it again!” she cried, as she clapped her hands and proceeded to copy my equine efforts.
The puppy paused to study our display of a little madness in the spring before offering an encouraging bark of her own at our heels.
Back home, after a snack, we danced and sang and drew pictures together.
“Draw me a frog,” my granddaughter demanded. She watched intently as I produced a froggy-like image with pencil and paper. “Oooh, I like it!” she said. I handed it over to her, and she traced the lines with a black pen. Meantime, I drew a sketch of the puppy as she lay in the chair with her head resting on one arm. “That looks just like her, Pop-pops! Can you draw a picture of me?” And so I drew a picture of my granddaughter, all the while singing:
Look at that face, just look at it;
Look at that fabulous face of yours.
I knew first look I took at it,
This was the face that would endure.…
Look at those eyes as wise and as deep as the sea;
Look at that nose, it shows what a nose should be.…
Afterwards we conjured up an extemporaneous performance of the death scene in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. By the time we had moved on to MacBeth, the phone rang, announcing her mother’s return from work.
She gathered her things—drawings, dog, leash, boots—and I walked her down to the bottom of the driveway. She and the puppy crossed the street and disappeared into their apartment.
That evening I visited Avery. We talked for three hours about the Spitzer scandal and the political campaigns, the environment and the escalating cost of gasoline, and the fact that his body was filling up with fluid now and he needed to use his oxygen every day. The first of the week he had an appointment with his oncologist when he hoped to learn the results of the latest MRI of his brain that had been done two weeks ago.
His granddaughter came with her mother and we all sat down at the kitchen table for dinner. From that point on all attention focused on the little girl. She had just gotten a new cell phone with a camera, and she giggled in delight as she took pictures of the dog and the cats and her mother and her grandmother, whom she calls Baba.
After they left I told Avery and his wife about the morning walk with my granddaughter and how I had functioned most effectively as a horse, an actor and purveyor of fine arts. They laughed, and I noticed that Avery’s blue eyes had never shown more intensely.