The two year old girl stood perched on the fireplace mantle. A tall, handsome young man with dark hair and blue eyes stood right below her. The young man's mother sat close by and watched, not at all thrilled with the acrobatics about to take place. The little girl waited with anticipation, her excitement growing. At any moment she would be given the command to jump and she would leap from the mantle with complete abandon. There would be that brief moment of weightlessness, flying like a bird, and then the thrill of falling. She had no fear because she knew that the handsome young man, her father, would catch her. He was big and strong and her faith in him was absolute. Her father called out to her, "Linda, come on!" She threw herself from the mantle, landing safely in his arms.
Throughout my childhood I was secure in the knowledge and strength of my father's love. He was my protector and provider, a giant of a man standing well over six feet tall with broad shoulders, strong arms and hands. In my eyes there wasn't anything he couldn't do. As long as he was near, the world was a safe place for a little girl and all was well.
My father has always been a man of commitment to his family, friends, and community, serving all through the conviction of his love and sense of duty. When his aging parents could no longer care for themselves, he brought them to live with us. Acknowledging a call to duty, he volunteered in the local fire department serving as Fire Chief and Chief of Rescue, and served the wider community in one term as President of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Emergency Medical Association. Charlie Boaz Stoltz, Jr. or, C.B. as he prefers to be called, was always ready to offer a helping hand. Dependable and true, family and friends relied upon his strong hands and good heart.
Time never ages because each moment is new, but it generates age. It speeds along, taking us on a journey into the future, transforming our bodies along the way. As we travel through the passage of time, one generation following another, we find ourselves intermittently as caregivers and care recipients. My father, once so big and strong, is now frail with many health issues. Today, I find myself holding out my arms to support the man who once caught me so lovingly with his. Just as it was in his time to look after his parents, it is now my turn to look after him and my mother.
Recently, while with my father, I found myself thinking of my son who, as of yet, has no children of his own. Who will be there to look after him when he enters that stage of life that is dependent upon another's care? Who will be there for him? No matter how old he gets, he will always be my child. My love and concern for him, even now, transcends the present time into a future where I will not exist. It was then that I thought about my grandmother and of how she must have loved my father just as I love my own son, of how she would have hoped and prayed that someone would always be there for him, caring for him when the time came. And then, as I looked upon my father, the sweetest thought drifted into my consciousness, "I am looking after my grandmother's child".
Linda S. Montgomery