I looked over at the little girl running in the rain. She looked so much like her, I thought. The way she carried herself and lifted her face to the rain. Even her mischievous expression reminded me of her. You could tell she wasn't scared of anything. This was my biggest reminder of her. She'd never been scared of anything, just like the little girl currently doing spins as the thunder and lightning picked up around her. She didn't even flinch.
"Ok psycho, that's enough spinning, get back inside the house." I called and she smiled over at me and ran up the wide porch steps.
"Grandpa you're the crazy one. The chances of me getting struck by lightning are very small." She said with a roll of her eyes. She seemed so much older than her six years.
"You're very small." I replied, relieved it was true. She may act older, but she was still my little granddaughter. I hung up her raincoat and put her boots on the mat near the front door. She sped through the house to the living room where my son was hanging up his phone and looking at his wife.
"Daddy, grandpa made me come inside." She pouted as if she thought her father would let her go back out.
"So I see." He beamed at her like it was the first time they'd seen each other. He sat on the arm of the couch as he put his phone in his pocket. "It's not summer anymore love, you can't be running around in the rain. You'll catch a cold, your mother will kill me, and then you'll grow up without a father."
"I wouldn't kill you, I'd just rough you up a little." Annie, my daughter in law said.
"Subtle, kid." I muttered at my son, but felt a glimmer of pride. My son. I looked at him and felt the same feelings he did when he looked at his child. Like it was the first time.
After eight years of marriage my son and daughter in law were finally going on a vacation alone together. And though that vacation was only a few hours away, they were excited for it, and left me my granddaughter to care for. At seven months pregnant, my daughter in law was a champ for still wanting this vacation. Though as I looked at her now, she seemed antsy.
"Paul are you sure about this? She's cute and all but she can be a handful." Annie looked at her daughter with catlike eyes. They were filled with both love and alertness. Very parent like.
I gestured to my son. "How do you think this monster ended up surviving? I helped with that. I got this Annemarie. Calm yourself."
She smiled and went over to kiss her daughter. "Be good please."
"Oh alright." The child rolled her eyes but placed a shy hand on her mother's bulging belly. "Bye bye rug rat." She said and Annie laughed with my son, who walked over to me.
"I have complete faith in you." He said and placed his hands on his shoulders, making me remember when he was young enough to ride on them. It was hard to believe my kid was thirty.
He was tall and broad shouldered, the only childish part of him was his untidy hair. He was the image of me, as everyone said. But the wild curly hair, and the two dimples he got when he smiled, were from his mother.
Skylar. My son, Skylar Lucas Jaci. Now thirty, and having his second child. It was always hard to believe.
"Go already so I can teach the frog to start fires in the woods." I smirked.
"Only we can prevent forest fires." The little one said so solemnly that we all laughed.
"Stupid fire safety pamphlets at the grocery store freak her out." Skylar said shaking his head. "Ok we're going then. You have the numbers." He asked me and I nodded. After heartfelt goodbyes they were out the door and I looked at my granddaughter, who was currently trying her best not to cry.
"Spaghetti O's for dinner?" I asked her.
"Only because you can't cook." She smiled, breaking the sadness, and went towards the kitchen, sitting on her favorite stool next to one of the counters.
"That may be, but I have secret ingredients that make it better."
I went to pull out a few cans and started preparing as she watched. Since some senses were still sharp I felt her eyes on me even when I was turned away. "What are you looking at?" I said and turned to smile at her. I was surprised to see her look thoughtful.
"I'm going to be a big sister." She said, almost like a question more than fact. I prayed she wasn't going to ask the dreaded, where do babies come from question. I hoped Skylar and Annie covered that. "Yes you are."
"But I'm six."
"There isn't an age limit to becoming a big sister you know."
"I don't know if I'll be any good at it." She said bluntly, her lower lip quivering. Had she really been worrying over this?
I put our dinner in the microwave and went over to her. "You are going to be the best big sister there ever was." I reassured her. "You know I'm a big brother right?"
"To great Aunt Sue."
"Yes. And you know I wasn't always the best brother to her. But I learned and I realized to be the best big brother all I had to do was love her. Do you already love the new baby?"
"I think so." She said after considering.
"Then your good. I know you kid, I know you will do fine." I turned back to get the spaghetti o's and spoon some into bowls. I snickered as I lifted the bowls.
"I know you're still looking at me frog."
She smiled when I turned around. "Why do you call me frog?"
"I have since you were born."
"I know, but you never told me why."
I placed the bowls in front of us and as she began eating I looked at her again. Had I never really told her the story? I studied the girl with the wild curly hair and solitary dimple on her left cheek. So much like her, she certainly was.
"Why don't I tell you a story then?"
She perked up more and bounced on the stool. "I like stories. Is it about a prince and princess?"
"Not quite, but it does involve magic. I think it's high time you hear it."
"Me too." She agreed, as if she knew, just how amazing the story was.
"How about we finish eating, and I'll do up the dishes and I'll tell you all about it."
"Ok." She grinned and kept eating.
I had already begun replaying the years in my head. All the memories of love, strength, anger, and magic. I could see it, as if it were for the first time.