The old man didn’t respond.
Still staring down at the cup on his lap, he was silent. Finally, she couldn’t take his rejection any longer.
This time she shook his shoulder while saying much louder, “Grandpa!”
“I heard you the first time, child.”
“Well, it is rude to ignore someone, Grandpa.”
“Not always. What’s on your mind?”
“I’ve almost been staying with you and Grandma for two weeks this vacation and every morning and every night you put ice from a tall glass into a hot cup of water.”
“You’re pretty observant. You got a point to make here?”
The little girl moved her head to the side, blew out a sigh for dramatic purposes and finally said, “Instead of cooling down your hot water with ice, why don’t you just make your hot water less hotter?”
Grandpa finally took his eyes off of his cup of hot water with the melting ice cubes in it and looked at what he sometimes called GC-6, but she preferred her real name, Alison.
“What makes you think I am cooling down the hot water?”
“Uh, duh Grandpa. Cold makes hot colder. It’s called science.”
“How old are you smarty pants?”
“You know. I am nine years old.”
“Well, you just might win the Noble Prize in physics.”
“You get prizes for that stuff?”
“Never mind. I’ve changed my prediction.”
“You never mind too Grandpa…. Why do you cool down your water with ice cubes and how do you know how many ice cubes to use?”
This time Grandpa cocked his head and stared at her for a moment.
“I am not Grandchild Number 6, Grandpa. Alison, please,” said Alison again with dramatic eyes.
“Ok,…Alison,” said the old man with his attempt at drama. “What makes you think I am purposely cooling down my water?”
“What else would you be doing?”
“Ok, little Miss Fizz Ickes, you tell me what other possibility might exist as an explanation for my actions?”
Alison paused for a moment, wrinkled her nose and tried to think really hard. Her only explanation sounded ridiculous in her mind.
“It sounds dumb Grandpa, but are you trying to warm up the ice cubes?”
“Bingo! You might win that prize yet.”
Alison suddenly felt concern for her GP-1 and there was silence between them.
“That’s not all I am doing, Alison.” Alison felt her concern for her Grandpa lightened a bit and fully hoped for a better explanation.
“I am also praying.”
The little girl’s head dropped in resignation. The conversation and explanations were heading downhill quickly.
“Do you pray Alison?”
“You know I do Grandpa. Now I lay me down to sleep…”
“Just between you, me and the fence post, I’m not crazy about that one.”
“My other grandpa taught it to me.”
“I know,” Grandpa said with his own sigh this time.
“And you know what, you don’t even close your eyes when the dinner prayer is said, Grandpa.”
“How do you know? Are your eyes open too?”
“Well, my other grandpa said you don’t believe like we believe and you might go to hell.”
Grandpa could feel his neck and shoulders get tight and a whole bunch of naughty words came to mind, but he looked back at the melting ice cubes as his eyes soften, his lips relaxed and he breathed deeply.
“Alison, have you ever seen a mean person become nice unexpectedly?
Alison thought intently for a minute. “Yeah, I have. Our mean, old grouchy neighbor, the man who kept yelling at me and my friends to be quiet when we are in the backyard playing music and dancing, he became nice one day.”
“What caused that?”
“Well, he got a new little puppy and it got out and he couldn’t find it. He was running around the neighborhood all worried like. Me and my friends were riding our bikes and he asked us if we’d seen his puppy? So, me and my friends split up, rode all over, and I found the puppy two streets from ours.”
“What happened then?”
“I brought the puppy back to him and, you know what Grandpa?”
“He started to cry when he held his puppy again. He was never mean to us anymore.”
Alison and Grandpa were both quiet until Grandpa took another ice cube and dropped it into the cup of hot water. “You melted him, Alison.”
“Your love melted him. He was an ice cube before he went into your own warm cup of love. The ice melted away, his fears left him and he became love, like an ice cube becomes liquid again.”
Alison looked at her Grandpa differently this time and they both stared at the melting ice cubes.
“Alison, sometimes I am an ice cube, cold and rigid, and I won’t let anything hurt me because I am afraid. But, when I spend time thinking about and feeling the love that surrounds me – like the way Grandma loves me, or the way you love me , or like the way God loves me- I begin to melt and I become more loving. I am loved and I am loving. That is how I pray. I think of you, and I put an ice cube in the hot water and then I silently pray that you know that you are loved, at all times, no matter what and that you will be loving too and I watch your ice cube melt and become part of the eternal love.
“Every morning and every night you do this?”
“Just about, except that day I had to get ready for the colonoscopy.”
“Never mind. Hey, would you mind going into the freezer and getting the biggest ice cube you can find for me?”
“Ok, who is it for?”
“Your other grandpa.”