Live and Learn — Traveling and Grandsons

Cliches become cliches because there is some clear core of truth within them. “Live and learn” is one of those. It is a premise found in Scripture and within our personal experiences.

Paul and I returned recently from a lightning round, eight day trip to the midwest. We flew to Chicago, spent the night at our older daughter’s home, picked up a rental car the next day and drove

to Fort Wayne, Indiana where we had dinner with a nephew, a niece, and their spouses before heading on that night to the family farm in Findlay, Ohio. Take a breath. On the drive from Ft. Wayne to the farm, we learned that Ron, my cousin-in-law (with whom we were to have lunch the next day with his wife, my cousin) had passed away two days earlier and the funeral was to be at the very time we were planning to visit them! Ron had been battling cancer for decades and had been in hospice care for seventeen months! His vibrant Christian witness shone through it all.

So, on Thursday, we attended the 2 1/2 hour funeral in Bowling Green, Ohio, drove in the motorcade to the internment site, returned to the church for a dinner — visiting with lots of relatives (on my dad’s side) that we hadn’t seen in years, returned to Ron and Connie’s house — enjoying a sweet time with Connie and her family, and then returned to the farm in Findlay to spend the evening with my aunt and uncle (on my mom’s side). What a rich and overwhelming day! Joy and sorrow mingled all day.

After spending a second night at the farm and visiting with Aunt Mary and Uncle Bud, we drove south to Troy, Ohio (north of Dayton) — the area where we reared our two girls. Our week end visit began with an evening in which about 18 friends gathered at the home of gracious friends for an enthusiastic and encouraging “catch up.”

I wrote the above on May 12. Since then, I’ve been preoccupied with dear guests here in Arizona, a week’s visit by our older daughter to our home, a fight with hives (all over my body!), a subsequent fibromyalgia spell and recovery, and finally, yesterday, we hosted a solar party! Now, I’m being quiet and sipping on a delicious strawberry-chocolate smoothie!! Yum, yum!  I apologize for taking so long to post this.

Oh, the highest joy of the midwest trip, and indeed, our motivation to make the trip at that time (providentially arranged), was to visit our two grandsons, Aiden (6) and Ryland (3), and their parents. Since last summer we’ve been talking on the phone about once a month with Aiden (and a bit with his younger brother). During every talk, Aiden has expressed his desire to see us and his frustration at not seeing us. So in February, after hearing him say to his mother before we hung up the phone, “Will we ever see them again?,” we bought tickets the next day to visit them in May.

And we did! What a visit! When we drove up on Saturday noon, May 1, Aiden was sitting on the front steps, waiting for us! What a greeting he gave, and his little brother, who really didn’t know us, opened his arms to me and walked right into my arms! What joy! It has been two years since we have seen them!

I need to connect this post with our series and theme: suffering and learning. While our trip was smooth and I’d be happy to just write of the happiness, most life situations for everyone have some sad elements, some levels of suffering. God saw to it that we were in Ohio for Ron’s funeral where relatives and friends gathered and emotion and memory ran rich and deep: gratitude, joy, pain, longing, loving, story-telling . . . .  Then to our grandsons’ home we traveled. Little Aiden, living in a lovely home with good parents and in a good situation, is new to this broken world. Some suffering mingles with the sweetness in his little world. One sadness is seldom seeing his maternal grandparents.

I am amazed by the ways that a young child grasps the concept and importance of grandparents! The boys have spent little time with us, but they connect with us, accept us, love us, and delight in us. We joy in each other!

Papa O and his grandsons.

Papa O and his grandsons.

Ryland enjoying his green smoothie!

Ryland enjoying his green smoothie!

Feeding bread crumbs to the duckless pond. Note the Burger King crowns!

Feeding bread crumbs to the duckless pond. Note the Burger King crowns!

Aiden wears Papa O's cowboy boots!

Aiden wears Papa O’s cowboy boots!

We played together at their home and at a park. Nana O even climbed a rope to get to the top and slid down the slides with the boys. Papa O romped with them, letting them jump on him. They had pretend sword fights, flew paper airplanes, played tag around their house, fed “ducks” at a pond (no ducks, so they feed the water and little fish). They played checkers in their living room. Our son-in-law grilled chicken, and we had dinner on their deck. Ryland is a good eater and wanted to eat his mom’s meal after eating his own!

We joined them at their church on Sunday morning and visited some more in the afternoon. My daughter and I had our own special time while Papa O and the boys played together in the yard.

Their voices ring in our ears: “Papa O, Papa O! Watch this!” “Papa O, Papa O!” “Nana O, I love you.” Stopping his playing at one point in the back yard, Aiden announced, “Papa O! I’m going to remember this day until I’m 22!” We hope he does! We’ll always remember it.

Before we left, both boys hugged us multiple times. Aiden declared, “I’ll see you again in a million, thousand days!” And there the sadness, the child-sized suffering surfaced again. “You live so far, far, far, far, far away!” And so we do. And we suffer too, missing the boys every day, praying for them every day.


Suffering is so good when it is motivated by love and is for love’s sake.

Thomas Case [note last post] encouraged his readers to receive a happiness by learning through one’s suffering — the benefit God is pleased to provide. Live and learn. No matter the age.

Aiden, Ryland, Nana O, and Papa O can learn to love each other more deeply and more creatively.  Gratefully, we can feed off the legacy of our shared memories. Until we meet again. . . .
















Categories: Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Post navigation

2 thoughts on “Live and Learn — Traveling and Grandsons

  1. Shirley

    It is so good to see pictures of the boys. Aiden looks so much like his dad. Not sure who Ryland looks like — his coloring is like Charissa’s. I’m glad you were responsive to Aiden’s comment. You were blessed those 2 days. You are right about suffering — life has times of living and learning. God helps us so graciously and gives us the strength to get through these times. Brad and I were part of the group on Friday night. Enjoyed seeing you and others — it was a blessing for all, I think. Thanks for sharing your memories of your visit, both happy times and sorrowful times. Love you, Shirley

    • kltolsen

      It was so great to see you and Brad that Friday evening! Wish we had more time together! Glad you enjoyed the pictures. Yes, I think Ryland looks like his mom, only he has darker hair. The entire trip was very meaningful and precious.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: