My story is secondhand. My late sister, Claire, told me about an afternoon in a park up in the hills of Laurel Canyon, where she watched from a distance as a blissful scene played out. A doting grandpa was playing with a little boy in the park, and it made her heart swell. There was something about the grandfather, she said, that filled her with longing.
He had white hair that tumbled carelessly past his collar and over his ears, in a way that suggested to her that he had stopped fussing about how he looked, in a good way. He was spry, and could keep up with the little boy. His attention was solely on the boy, and his capacity for play seemed inexhaustible.
She found herself wishing she could be that boy, and experience this type of interaction with such a devoted grandfather. The boy eventually got tired, and she could tell they had decided it was time to go. My sister was hoping they would pass near her, so that she could at least smile at them, show them how much joy they’d given her without even being aware of her presence. As they approached, she suddenly realized it had been Gregory Peck she’d been watching, and her sense of profound discovery, of glimpsing the man behind the iconic movie star, moved her to tears…both in the moment and in the retelling of the story.
I’ve never forgotten how vividly she was able to make her experience come alive for me.