He looked at his son’s large house with a sinking feeling. He just knew they’d made a mistake. But what man has won an argument with a wife who hasn’t seen her grandchildren in a year? He glanced at her as they waited for the door to open. She was excited, happy. He sighed, relieved to note the son’s warm welcome matched his mother’s enthusiasm.
The welcome elsewhere was lukewarm. He drank his tea in silence, wishing he was back home, wondering how they were going to pass the next 5 days. He glanced down at the little girl, leaning against him, while she chattered nineteen to the dozen with her grandmother. Was he the only unhappy one? Or was it just discomfort at the obvious differences between their small village home and this large almost mansion. Or something else perhaps, which he wasn’t willing to articulate.
“The baby’s still asleep, why don’t you take some rest and we’ll catch up with him in the evening?” their son suggested. They nodded. “I’ve put you in the first floor. Less to climb.” He stared at his son. “First floor? Isn’t there a room here, on this floor?” His son looked bemused. “No, no, all the rooms are upstairs. Is there a problem?” “No, no problem,” he said huffily as his wife looked uneasily at the long climb up. The doctor had recently diagnosed his joint pain as arthritis with the admonishment, “Avoid long walks, don’t climb stairs.” He had laughed. “There are no stairs in our small house, eh. And I never walk, if I can help it.” They had both guffawed and there the matter had rested.
The little girl had already gone up for her nap. He rose with a little difficulty and walked slowly, unwillingly, towards the stairs. It was a known fact that nobody understood one’s aches except oneself. He anticipated the right knee would be throbbing by the time they reached their room.
Just as he placed his foot on the first step, his granddaughter came running from the higher floor, her mother calling after her in vain. She ran down to him, took his hand in hers and said, “Grandpa, let me help you up the stairs. Take care now, hold on to my hand, I won’t let you fall.”
He smiled. It wasn’t going to be such a bad 5 days ahead, after all.