The other day I was searching for songs to play on my guitar, and came across an old favourite called ‘He Walks On Water’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCVw8Qjeg84
It’s sappy - yeah. It’s country - yeah. It’s . . . oh who cares, I like it.
I used to think of my grandfather when I watched the video, but these days it gets me to thinking about Jim instead, and the special connection he has with Andrew, our grandson.
Jim is ‘Bucky’ to Andrew, and we have no clue why. It was one of the first words that ever came out of Andrew’s mouth, so he was too young to explain the thought behind the name. Still, we all liked it, and accepted Andrew’s choice. If I hear ‘grandpa’ in connection with Jim, it sounds weird and wrong. It seems Andrew, in some precognitive way, just recognized a Bucky when he saw one.
A tangent here: Wrong words often linger for years ‘round our house. When Heather was a toddler, which is (gasp) over 35 years ago, she called the dishwasher the ‘daftwashie’. To this day, it remains the daftwashie. This is how we roll - when we like a mangled word, we add it to our vocabulary and use it to death.
At any rate, here’s my favourite part of the aforementioned song: “His hat seemed to me like an old halo, and although his wings they were never seen, I thought that he walked on water”. And that has been kind of my secret take on Jim. If anybody I know walks on water, Jim does, even though he sometimes sinks like a rock instead. Life sometimes has traps for walkers on water, I guess, but the good ones get it sorted.
Over the years the kid has used his Bucky as a horse, a trampoline (ouch), a co-pilot on voyages out among the stars (in dining room chairs that doubled as space ships), a prisoner, a hiking buddy, a teacher of bicycle-riding and ice-skating, a patient (Dr. Boy often had to masking-tape his patient from head to toe to fix him up properly) (sadly, sometimes Dr. Boy forgot his patient and went home, and said patient had no actual way to break free from his ‘cast’), and a soother of injuries both spiritual and physical. Through it all, Bucky just smiled his goofy smile like the guy in the video, except with teeth.
Andrew, structures engineer guy in work overalls, has gone after-hours with Bucky to work to learn the art of riveting, and to ‘fly’ a helicopter or two. He has laboured hard alongside his Bucky, creating at least twice as much work in the process. Smiles, and sometimes tears, when Bucky has had to pause in their work and go out of town to do an on-location job.
And the hat in the video? Bucky has the hat. It’s a battered old Tilly hat that has seen (much) better days, and when he wears it, it does seem to me like an old halo. It’s not that Jim is a saint, god no, but he is a gentle soul with an unwavering devotion to his grandson, which makes him walk on water, as far as I’m concerned. Jim has no agenda, no pretensions, no facade, he is just, as Andrew says, ‘a good old Bucky’. He is truly WYSIWYG.
He’s not as ancient as the old guy in the song, and he still has all his teeth, but the ways the old man and boy are in the video is the way Andrew and his old Bucky are. It’s a dance of love they share, one of tenderness, affection, and redemption. But time passes, and little kids who idolize adults morph into bigger kids who don’t as much. These days, Andrew is an eight year old minecraft maniac moving into a new world of, shudder, pop music, video games, godawful movies, and cringe-worthy body-function jokes, yet the bond remains between this old guy and the kid, because in a world where people sometimes let a kid down, his Bucky never does, and he never will.