“Do my face! Do my face, Paw Paw!” I demanded with the innocent fervor and glee that only a child can express. My wish was immediately granted; Paw Paw could not bear that he should make one of his beloved grandchildren wait too long for his company.

“You sit here, you sit here, Paw Paw,” and with that I dragged him by the hand to the couch. I plopped down, laid my head in his lap, and gave him permission to begin.

Paw Paw chuckled with delight as he instructed, “Now, you have to lay still if I’m to do a good job.” And with that he began to lovingly trace the outline of my face with his fingertips. His hands were smooth and soft, lines and fingerprints long worn off from a lifetime of tasks.

“It tickles!” I squealed as his first traces woke up the nerve endings in my face.

“Be still now,” he gently coddled.

After a moment, I relaxed into this tender treat as if getting pampered at a massage parlor. He always took his time with me. Rarely did I ever feel rushed in his presence. His fingers lulled me to sleep. These were sweet and sacred moments.

Paw Paw left an abundance of good memories like these for all of us to revisit — unique experiences he made sure to create for each of his grandkids. None of us could say he loved one more than the rest. He was so careful to make all of us feel equally cherished and important.

As I have officially reached middle age, I have been thinking back on younger moments that feel so far away now. With the world in what feels like a time more unfamiliar than ever, it has been a small comfort to return to the nostalgia of what seemed so simple and less foreign.

These treasured afternoons with my precious grandfather on the couch, in his arms — a gentle time, a safe place.

We are on this earth but for a certain time. It is only a season in a span of eternity, and it is over in the blink of an eye.

We have the power today to leave resting spots for our loved ones tomorrow — memories that usher us back into good places when what surrounds us is so uncertain.

That can be part of our legacy. Not only the tangible things and the physically inherited objects, but the kind impressions we leave forever through the love we choose to live. These are the better things, the eternal things that long outlast our presence and remind others that we were once here among them.

Photos fade, picture frames get broken, and we sometimes lose the special tokens that are left to us.

But all the time well spent, and the love demonstrated in these precious moments we create can be preserved.

These things are kept forever in my mind, just behind my forehead, where Paw Paw’s hands brushed me to sleep in his lap.

Born in Rome, Olivia Gunn returned to her roots after a brief time of study at a university in Scotland. She is an honors graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Gordon State College and is currently working on a book of essays and poetry as well as a memoir.

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