It was Sunday evening. There was nobody home but me.
I was downstairs in the dark watching television when I heard several footsteps above.
I turned off the TV and went to see who had arrived.
As I walked to the steps, I saw a form standing there. They tiny shadow, just 36 inches tall, froze still in the darkness as soon as I got near.
"Who is that standing in front of me," I bellowed, leaning down to speak.
There was a short pause, and the answer came back in a tiny voice from our nearly 3-year-old grandson, Matthew Nordland.
"Nobody," he said.
He spoke shyly. He said it like he was thinking maybe I had asked this silly question because he had done something wrong. So the safest thing for him to say was "Nobody," and therefore admit to nothing.
And he said nothing more.
I didn't speak right away, either. I imagined he was looking up at me and thinking: "Who does this crazy granddad think is standing in front of him? How many 38-inch-tall people walk around his house, especially downstairs where all the toys are?
But he didn't say all that. All he said was, "Nobody" -a little boy standing there in the shadows calling himself "Nobody."
"You aren't Nobody," I said. "You're Matt."
He didn't answer and ran upstairs, where I guess he thought he'd find more rational adults to deal with.
The image of him standing there in the darkness has stayed with me. For a while, I didn't know why. But I understand now.
Today you're only 38 inches tall, Matt, and you're still too little to know what I'm talking about. But someday you'll grow up. Someday too you'll be taller and stronger and a lot smarter than your old granddad.
And when that happens, you'll find there will be days when the world will overwhelm you and make you feel like Nobody.
Maybe someone will tuck this away for you to look at.
You aren't Nobody, Matt.
You were made by God who made the stars and the moon and the sun and the Earth - the great mountains and deep oceans. And you mean more to him than all these things.
You're the smile that shines darkness out of your parents' lives and rekindles youth in your granddad's heart.
You aren't Nobody, Matt.
You're the one and the only. The original you. "Nobody" is the work and worries, the endless busy tasks that drive and clutter our lives and make us forget who we really are. "Nobody" is the measure of value that counts money instead of good deeds, that ranks status instead of helpfulness, that puts self in front of others.
And you aren't Nobody, Matt.
You're as great as the love you have for others and the love they have for you. And that makes you Somebody, somebody very special.
There are times when all of us feel like Nobdoy, Matt. I know sometimes that's how I feel. Sometimes I wonder if I've ever done anything that really matters- and if I ever will.
That's when I think about my family, and I feel a whole lot better. That's when I think of you.
I'm not Nobody. I'm granddad.
You aren't Nobody. You are my grandson.
And Nobody can ever have a greater grandson than you.
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