Almost five years ago, alien life forms started invading my personal space. They staged their arrivals in such a manner that just about the time I was done rearranging me emotional furniture for the first one, the next one dropped down from space with a plop. 

These little aliens are far cuter than the Area 51 goobs you see in Halloween costumes.  In fact, they have more cuteness per square inch than a warren of baby cottontails.

The first one arrived in a seemingly innocent way having been transported through my daughter-in-law, Kristy.  She has a rather earthly name for such an intergalactic creature: Cailyn Joy.

The second one arrived, again innocently, through my other daughter-in-law, Alana, in the middle of absolute chaos of packaging 20 million meals for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. His name is Isaiah Reece.

You’d think by the time the third alien life-form arrived, I would have been accustomed to the ways they capture my heart and transport me to intergalactic bliss. Evan Thomas, who refers to himself in the third-person moniker of “Bah,” brings up the rear of the tiny troop.

These alien life forms are my three grandchildren who have done things to my heart I didn’t know was possible. I sometimes wonder if a part of my heart just expanded with love to let them in, or if that spot was vacant awaiting their arrival. I love my children, but, wow, do I love my grandchildren!

Others who have been abducted by these kinds of aliens warned me that grandkids are better than having your real kids. I couldn’t imagine that was true because I passionately love my kids, but after five years and three grandkids, I think they were on to something. It’s not that I love them more; it’s that there are different parts of my heart these little aliens weaseled into that my children couldn’t.

I haven’t completed plumbed the depth of the mystery of my affection for them, but here are some casual observations of new emotions that arrived the same time these aliens did:

    • They mean I was successful in raising my own children – my greatest fear as a parent was failing and having my kids end up as drug addicts and/or in prison; that these little guys are alive and not making weekend visits to see their Dads at the Betty Ford clinic or a correctional facility means I was a successful parent
    • I don’t have all the pressures that go along with being a parent – Not only do I get to ship them home after I’ve wound them up, I also figure if they end up in prison, it’s not my fault
    • I want to be fondly placed in their memories – I only had one set of grandparents growing up and was not close to them at all, but I do remember how much I wanted them to be involved in my life. I get a chance to create a reality that I grew up without.
    • They give me hope for the future- I frequently pray over them that they will be the best at whatever they have been sent here to do whether it is to wash the wounds of the poor or to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Naturally, all three have me wrapped tightly around their little fingers. When I’m with them, my children barely recognize me assuming the aliens have abducted me. They have.

When Isaiah says, “But Papa, you can’t leave, you’re my best friend,” or Evan, when queried by his Dad- Caleb- what he was thinking about and says, “Papa Rick.” Or when Cailyn, a.k.a. KK, says, “I love you, Papa Rick Poopy Butt!” life just makes sense. Heaven comes down to earth, even if just for a little bit.