The boy is eight years old, with a reddish-blond Mohawk and big front teeth. He is extremely tall for his age (like his daddy). For hours he runs, jumping and bouncing around energetically sans shirt, his long, skinny torso exposed to the April sun and breeze.
The old man is sitting on the back patio, sipping his coffee and chuckling at the shenanigans of the youngster. Peering over his glasses, he watches the boy intently. His demeanor is relaxed but alert, obviously enjoying the lazy Sunday afternoon.
The child stops and runs over to plop down in my lap. His mannerisms change and he suddenly seems more mature. He questions the octogenarian about his experiences in World War II and the types of planes he saw, and then about a particular jet -- when and where was it first produced? The elderly man is startled by such an unexpected shift in the boy's behavior. He hesitates at first, then answers, “Germany.” The lad confidently replies, “That’s correct!” and even supplies the appropriate year.
In the distance comes the sound of music – an ice cream truck is making its afternoon rounds. The neighborhood dogs howl in distress from the painful sound. I ask the young boy and his patriarch if they would like some ice cream. “Yes!” they both reply.
The mood becomes light and playful again. The youth quickly runs to the street to hold the ice cream truck for me while I grab my purse.
As they settle down to enjoy their frozen treats together, my eyes seem to be playing tricks on me. The old man now seems transformed to another time and place.
As I squint in the afternoon light, I no longer see an octogenarian and his great-grandson, but two boys, both about eight years old, grinning and sharing a unique moment in time.