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Introduction

Some of the following stories are excerpts from my upcoming memoir, and some are recent observations of five living generations. All characters, animals, and events, are real. How individuals related to some of those events is based on how I think they would have interpreted words, conversations, and stories.

Watching the different behavioral styles of grandparents, parents, children, and grandchildren of different generations has been fascinating. Thus you will find here a reflection on myself in each of the three roles as a grandparent, parent, and child. Observing the different generations communicating has also been fascinating. I had to work much harder at communicating (being able to imagine what the other person was thinking) when the third and fourth generations came along. Watching a music video channel made connecting with my granddaughters easier. Connecting with my great-grandson should have required watching cartoons, and paying attention to his toys. That’s where I failed, but I have openly expressed my love for him in many ways, and that connection seemed most important.
The main character you are about to meet is Carter, my great-grandson.

Recently, while driving back from Crested Butte, Colorado to our home in Almont, my son-in-law, grandson-in-law, great-grandson Carter, and I saw a magpie in the middle of the road. I immediately told the story of an unfortunate magpie that made the electrical connection between positive and ground while standing on top of my transformer. I completed the story with a sizzle and POW sound along with an image of long black and white feathers floating to the ground. Carter, who had been totally quiet, asked, “Grandpa Jim, can I see your transformer when we get home?”
When I pointed at gray cylindrical transformer number 1891, explaining the transformation from high to low voltage, Carter said, “That doesn’t look like my transformer.” I left thinking Carter saw and heard my description of the bird’s violent demise as natural because he associated the event with a cartoon toy transformer wreaking havoc. I imagined Carter thought: My transformer is cooler than Grandpa Jim’s.

The Journey

The red glow of dawn with scattered pink and purple storm clouds gave way to a clear mid-morning sky and quickly warming summer temperatures. Grandpa David, Grandma Shelley, Aunt Katie, and Aunt Chloe occupied the first vehicle of the two-family caravan. Carter’s dad drove the following vehicle with Carter’s mom, the older sister of Katie and Chloe, in the front passenger seat, and Carter behind in his car seat.
The family always followed the same route to Grandpa Jim’s home in Almont, Colorado for summer vacation. That annual pilgrimage, going on for over twenty years, now got larger with each new family member. This year, however, would turn out to be special—because of a rare visitor.