They'd met before. But he wasnt ready. He was 8 months old, and while his Papa coed over his firm grasp and exchanged one teething toy for another, I could see his great grandfathers deep desire and the longing on his ageing heart to walk with him, to kick a ball while his frailing body still could.
I remember them saying goodbye and knowing (even while it wasn't likely to be the case) that Papa was thinking he may never see him again before the end of his days. There used to be nothing more difficult for me than saying goodbye to my grandparents, as I left each time to join my husband on the other side of the world. There is now nothing more difficult for me than watching them say goodbye to their great grandchildren - with a hope in their eyes for more days to be added to their lives that they may see more of the fruit of their life's labour - a fourth generation. Great grandsons.
While our last trip was not planned, and my desire to stay home in the UK rather than return to Africa was made plain and obvious to all, including God, it was restorative to this sweet pair who have an unique and incredibly special bond. My hearts strongest desire is that their annual rendezvous' continue until Levi is old enough to hold that memory, to remember that old man and to remember his love for him.
I always take too many photos. I never get to edit them all and use them and I often leave a place feeling like I maybe missed out a little by sitting behind my lense.
But then, every now and again, I catch something, something I missed in the moment, and I realise that I have had the privilege of immortalising and emotion. Capturing a heart.
Papa threw him his first ever "catch".
Papa was there to see it. And my camera was their to snap it all up.
I wish you could see the bigger version of these pictures. To see the warmth brim up on the old man's face. To feel his delight. Thank you Lord for funnelling us down a one way track to return to Africa. Every sharp pain and the great expense of it pales into lesser significance when Im reminded of balm our children can be to those who have lived their lives near to their end.