Life was good with Dad; a son couldn't have asked for or received anything better. He loved me and I loved him. Those years with him were some of my best; although I must admit my life with grandma, prior to moving in with Dad, was pretty darn good too. I once asked him why he never dated or sought another partner. His answer was simple, "I belong to one man; he's my love for all eternity" and quoted "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight and his fruit was sweet to my taste."
"What more could I seek, Jed; I have Grant and now I have you?"
Leah and I married our first year at the University. Thanks to my insurance settlement and investments and Dad's generous trust, we had no need to work so we could devote our time and energy to studies and to each other. Leah majored in accounting and I majored in law. Josiah Grant Dickenson Parker, the first of our six sons, arrived in the world, three weeks after Leah graduated. To say he was the apple of his grandfather's eye, is an understatement to say the least. Josiah started out as "Joey" but Dad changed that as Joey began learning to crawl. Dad said he just kind of "scooted" on his belly at first; "Scooter" he became and is to this day.
Dad loved all of his grandsons and spoiled them terribly, never missing an opportunity to take them with him on the boat, to the garden, hauling them to town in the pickup truck, or hold them on his lap as he read to them or told them stories of his life with Uncle Grant. But it was Scooter who held a very special place in his heart and Dad in Scooter's. It was as if they could communicate with each other without speaking aloud, sharing thoughts, secrets, or just smiling in a manner only the two of them could understand. Scooter, as he grew and when we were at the lake visiting, was Dad's shadow and constant companion.
As the babies kept arriving in my family, we soon ran out of bedroom space at Dad's lake house, so he added another, bigger bedroom – called it "the dormitory." Leah and I occupied our own room; the spare bedroom (where Jonathon and Martin used to stay) was converted to a nursery, but Scooter took over my old bedroom, just down the hall from Dad.
After graduation from law school, I began practice in Madison at a small firm, preferring to work in family law and civil rights, along with those cases other attorneys really didn't want to handle, which meant I'd never grow wealthy at the practice, but a practice I found extremely satisfying. It also gave me the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with Dad at the lake. When there was no school, I would load the family up in the car and we'd head north to the lake. Often I would return to Madison during the week to the office while Leah and the boys stayed with Dad and I'd come back up over the weekend. This meant Dad had Leah and the boys to himself all week and he loved it so dearly.
A few days after Scooter's sixteenth birthday, we arrived at the lake to celebrate it with Dad and get the boys settled for a summer visit. It was a happy time for Scooter, he had his driver's license and, anxious to demonstrate his skills, conned his grandfather in taking a ride with him in the pickup. Early the next day, the two of them tromped off to the trout stream for a successful fishing trip, spent time putting in garden, with Leah and the other boy's assistance, and swimming later that day. By nightfall, everyone was pretty well worn out, so it was early to bed for all.
The next morning when I awoke and didn't smell the scent of freshly brewed coffee wafting from the kitchen, I knew something was wrong! With heavy heart and reluctant steps, I ventured to Dad's bedroom and, finding the door partially open, stepped in. Dad was lying peacefully in his bed, covered, except for one arm, looking as though he should sit up and greet me. Sitting in a chair by his bedside, one hand gently resting on Dad's, saying nothing but gazing softly at him, was Scooter.
I walked forward, checked Dad for a pulse or any sign of life, but I knew the search would be in vain. Suppressing a sob, vowing to remain strong in my grief as I had so many years before when finding my grandmother when she died, tempering it with the love Dad felt for me, I turned my attention to Scooter, sitting silently while I said my goodbyes.
"How long have you been here?" I asked him gently.
"Oh, for awhile," he sighed in return. "Doesn't Grandpa look peaceful and satisfied with his life?"
He was right, Dad did, reminding me of a passage from the Song of Songs by Solomon; "The king hath brought me into his chamber; we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember they love more than wine." We'd rejoice in the life he led and the life he gave me. Aunt Rose and Aunt Adele passed away a few years before and Dad was the last of his immediate family, but my family was blessed with their heritage and many cousins.
The pallbearers who carried Uncle Grant to his rest, carried my father to that little hilltop cemetery across the lake and settled him next to Grant – Parker's first and only love, so the two of them could share eternity together and watch over us across the lake.
The second day after the service, when all of the well-wishers left and the activity subsided, that time when you're alone, when grief seems to step in and try to strangle you, choke you with emotion, I couldn't sleep, thinking of the good times with Dad and trying to come to terms with my loss of him. Early, toward dawn, the soft click of a door closing caught my attention. Leah didn't hear it, but I did. Sliding quietly from our bed, striding softly from our room, I began checking the boy's bedrooms. Scooter was not in his, but as I sought him in the house, I looked out toward the lake and could see him walking toward the dock.
I followed him discreetly at a distance, uncertain of his intentions, watching him settle on the dock, knees drawn up, arms wrapped around them as he looked across the lake at the little cemetery, just now being illuminated by the rising sun. I knew why he was there; it was no different than when Dad would sit there in silently communion with Uncle Grant resting across the lake.
Walking down the dock, reaching Scooter, I sat down beside him, saying nothing, waiting for him to acknowledge my presence. Nodding, smiling at me, he returned his gaze across the lake.
Sensing an opportunity, I casually mentioned, "Mom and I have been talking and we've decide to sell out everything in Madison and move up here, making this our home. I know that's what Grandpa would've wanted and I know it's what you boys will want. I enjoyed growing up here with Dad and I'd like my family to have that experience with Mom and I."
He nodded his approval, smiled again at me, looked down at his knees for a few short minutes, and said hesitantly, "I met him, you know – Uncle Grant."
I held my breath, daring not to pry or ask a question or even speak for fear of silencing my son, a son who had something to say, something he was thinking deeply of and uncertain he could share it.
"Grandpa came to my bedroom and awakened me early the other morning- you know which day- and told me he had someone he wanted me to meet. We walked to his bedroom, his arm around me, holding me close, and when we entered his room, Uncle Grant was sitting on the edge of the bed. He stood, folded his arms around me, kissed me on the forehead as Grandpa always did, and pulled Grandpa into the embrace with us. He looked at Grandpa and then at me and said, 'Scooter, like your father, in you we are complete.'"
"We sat on the bed, talked and laughed and he made me feel so good, he and Grandpa. When dawn began casting its first faint shafts of light into the room, Grandpa kissed me goodbye and said, 'Scooter, we have to go.' I knew where they were going and I so much wanted them to stay, but it was not to be."
"Grandpa lay down on the bed, Uncle Grant kissed him, pulled him close in a loving embrace, and whispered 'I've waited so long for you my love.' Grandpa kissed him in return, saying 'You have been and are my only love.' Saddened, I interrupted, asking, 'Grandpa will I ever find a love like you and Uncle Grant had?"
"He winked and said, 'Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness,' and closed his eyes, slipping away to be with Uncle Grant. I covered them and held Grandpa's hand until you came."
"Well, Dad, will I ever find a fellow who will love me like that?"
I sat a moment, nodded, and replied, "I'm certain of it. I think Grandpa and Uncle Grant have someone in mind for you.
"Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills."
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]