Some relationships are more difficult than others. Each unfolds at its own pace. What follows is a piece of fiction, but it probably happened somewhere.
The old man sat in a straight backed wooden chair. His hands moved with a surety and rhythm; as steady as the hum of the bees that droned in the flowers just off the side of the porch.
Most times he sat on the wide worn steps of the porch to whittle, but now, he sat in the chair, with his grandson sitting just below on the step.
The boy was rocking back and forth. The child was silent except for an occasional moan from deep in his throat. It was a sort of strangled sound that seemed torn from his vocal cords in its attempt to escape confinement. Rather than the normal sounds of joy from a small boy, it was like the cry of a wounded animal.
As usual, the behavior of the boy unnerved the old man, but his own feelings of helplessness rattled him even more. He was the fixer; the solver of problems. He knew how to get things done, but with this child, he felt helpless. The boy had been diagnosed with mild autism early in his life, and now the old man and his wife were going to care for him for two weeks, to give the boy’s parents a much needed break.
What was he going to do? His wife was better with the boy; had more patience. Their son, the boy’s father, had been a too quiet kid. Not autistic, but with his own difficulties, and it had always been his wife who handled anything in that regard. He had been too busy trying to keep a farm going to make much of a connection with his son. Now, his son was grown, and gone, with a son of his own.
The boy’s eyes appeared unfocused and unseeing, but as each piece of wood flew from the body of his project, the old man noticed that there was some spark of interest in the boy. It was nothing he could point to, but he knew it was there. It was like someone watching you out of the corner of their vision. He felt it.
He continued his carving, and where once there was only a straight block of whitewood, the form of a rabbit was now taking shape.
They sat for an hour or more, each in their own world, yet…
The old man made the finishing cuts to smooth and refine the little rabbit, then put his knife in it’s sheath. He sat holding it in his hand, turning it over and over again, studying it from all angles. He stood up, moved a few steps down and turned slowly. Then he knelt down in front of the boy. Gently, he made his offering, placing the small figure into the boy’s hands. The boy quickly clutched it close to his still rocking body. The old man smiled, as he thought he saw the fleeting focus in the boy’s gaze. The boy’s body relaxed a bit and then, the old man’s did too.