Two years ago my hubby declared himself too old to be a camp counselor. This year, the day our St. Louis grandchildren signed up to join their Little Rock cousins at church camp, he immediately said, “I’ll be a counselor this year.”
Before going, he filled his pill box with morning and evening medicines to keep his heart beating regularly.
“Do you want an extra pad for your camp bed?” I asked. He shook his head and grabbed a recently finished Minnie Mouse quilt, his toothbrush and Bible.
On Sunday he made up his bunk and welcomed two grandsons into his cabin of five boys. They settled in for a week of lessons, crafts, sports and fun.
Tuesday morning, he came home for an appointment with his heart specialist and a business meeting. He returned to camp in time for evening devotions.
Wednesday, one grandson challenged him to play tether ball. Easy game, unless you are 79 and have a partial knee replacement. He turned too fast and wrenched his leg.
Thursday, camp ended. He limped into the house with the St. Louis grandchildren, Sophie and Sam, and dropped his suitcase. “I can not lift anything. I am so tired,” he coughed. The sun had not even set when he fell into bed. I gave him a pillow to prop his swollen knee and closed the bedroom door.
Friday morning, Sam and I left the house to check out a couple yard sales. Sam found small star shaped tins, “we can make star shaped chocolate chip cookies in these!” he decided.
“Then we need chocolate chips,” I turned the car toward the grocery store.
Grandpa slept as Sophie mixed up cookie dough. He slept as I prepared hash and poured milk on cereal.
At 11:30 he awoke to find the old fashion upright typewriter on the dining table and the treadle sewing machine open.
“Have you ever used a treadle?” I asked Sophie.
“Well, I wasn’t supposed to…” she said.
“Oh don’t worry about this one, you really can’t hurt it. They built these things to last.”
She and Sam treadled out rows of stitching, typed a bit on the manual typewriter and then switched to an electric sewing machine to make pillowcases. Sam looked at the hole in the knee of his jeans and said, “I used to like the holes, but now they are just annoying. Can you mend my jeans? You will have to hand sew a patch on it.” I studied his jeans. I have patched plenty of torn jeans with a machine.
Grandpa slumped in his chair watching Sam sort through Lego blocks. He listened to Sophie work her way through the first book for piano players. He tasted cookies, checked his email and went to the doctor for his cough and not as swollen leg.
We went to the MAD playscape. He went to pick up pills for his cough. At bedtime the house looked like a wreck. My husband felt like one. His mind defies his age, but his body knows it’s 79 and counting.
Saturday morning, I tiptoed out of our bedroom, opened the sewing machine and sewed five patches on Sam’s jeans and fixed the hem before we left to meet his mom and brother.
“We had so much fun!” the campers declared. Their little brother Henry bragged about his week as an only child.
We swapped stories, ate lunch, transferred luggage, exchanged hugs good-bye and then hubby announced, “This was Sam’s first year at camp and my last year as camp counselor.” Today he thinks he needs to pass the job on to the next generation. Maybe he means it this time. Maybe.