Hey diddle diddle
The Cat and the Fiddle
The Cow jumped over the moon.
The little Dog laughed to see such sport,
And the Dish ran away with the Spoon.
My four year old son and I were sitting quietly together one afternoon when he asked, in tones way too solemn for his age, "How did that cow jump over the moon?"
I thought for a moment, then answered, "Well, I guess she took a running start."
"How do you know it was a girl cow?"
"Because cows are girls. Bulls are boys."
He pondered this information, then continued his interrogation.
"What kind of cow was it?"
Again I gave the question some thought, then answered, "A Guernsey cow."
"Which ones are they?"
"They're the lovely brown ones with the big, sweet eyes."
"Oh" was his response. We continued to sit together in silence, watching the rain splatter the side walk, big drops bouncing off the pavement. My grandmother used to call rain like that a butterfly parade, because of the shape that the drops made.
Gently he grabbed my hand with his as he whispered, "I heard Daddy crying this morning."
I kissed the top of his head and pulled him closer.
"He's sad because Grandpa died last night."
He snuggled into my side, almost like he was trying to return to his original home, which was now occupied by his sibling to be.
"Grown ups aren't supposed to cry."
"I don't know. It's scary when they do."
"Even grownups get very sad sometimes. Crying makes them feel better."
He shrugged his shoulders, not ready to believe that grownups weren't anything other than omnipotent. He began to play with the fringe on the bottom of my sweater.
"Are we going to do something?"
"You mean, for Grandpa?"
"We'll go to church, and some people will tell some stories about Grandpa, and maybe some people will sing some of his favorite songs, and then we'll go to the cemetery to say goodbye to him."
"How is Grandpa gonna get there?"
"He'll be inside his coffin and a special car will take him there."
He sat up, and blinked his eyes in amazement.
"Grandpa's a vampire now?!"
I couldn't help but laugh.
"No, what makes you think that?"
"You said he would be in a coffin and vampires sleep in coffins."
I sighed as I realized we'd been letting him watch too much bad television.
"No baby, Grandpa isn't a vampire. Vampires are make believe in books and movies."
A look of disappointment clouded his face.
"That's too bad. It would be cool to have a grandpa who was a vampire. He could come and visit me at night."
I had to admit there was a certain sense of logic to that. A noise from behind caught our attention; we turned to acknowledge Daddy as he came home from making the arrangements for his father. Our son stood up on the couch and called out, "Guess what Daddy?"
"I know how the cow jumped over the moon."
My love gave me a quizzical look as he scooped his boy into his arms, squeezing him tight.
"How did she do that Bud?"
"She took a running jump. And you know what Daddy, you don't have to worry about Grandpa being a vampire now, because they're just pretend."
A happy laugh escaped as fresh tears began to form. "That's good to know Buddy."
The two of them stood together locked in an embrace. Finally our boy managed to wiggle loose. "Daddy, am I going to have to sit still all through church?"
"It would be nice if you could. It's a pretty special occasion."
"Are you going to sing, or are you going to tell a story about Grandpa?"
"I think I'll probably tell a story. Why?"
"Oh, well, you really can't sing so good, so I think it would be better if you told a story."
The sound of laughter filled the air, easing the grief like a fresh spring rain.