Grayson sat beside me in our den. Papa and grandson were having a man-to-man talk. It was his birthday, and that was the subject of our conversation.

“Hey, Papa,” G chimed brightly, but with an attempt at seriousness, “I’m catching up with you. One day I’ll be as old as you are!”

After an attempt to stifle a chuckle, I responded, “Yep! But you’ve got a long ways to go.”

Then after a moment of silently trying to do the math in my head, I added, “You know, buddy, if I’m still alive when you get to be as old as I am, I’ll be 139 years old. That’s older than the oldest person alive today.”

I’m not sure my math was correct, and I have no intention of pulling out a calculator to check, and I’d appreciate it if nobody else would check the figures either! Anyway, anything over 30 is old to most 9-year-olds.

We had a good laugh, though, and later that day — with all of G’s immediate family, plus Nahnee and me — we talked about that very exciting day. It was nine years earlier in Knoxville. Our daughter-in-law was laboring to deliver her firstborn, and some of us were in the hall with our ears to the door. We were hoping to hear a newborn baby cry, but a very stern nurse explained that we were blocking the passageway and someone might need to get to the O.R. / Delivery Room. Then she smiled and offered the room next door as a better waiting venue.

Next door, all of us held our ears to the wall, hoping to hear the cries of Grayson Samuel Playl. We waited, impatiently, to hear the news, and the time passed slower than the past nine years have now. But finally, we got to see — and hold — our precious, stinking cute Grayson.

Several hours into his ninth birthday, Aunt Stacia told G, “You know you’re my favorite Grayson.”

Little brother Anderson was nearby when Stacia made that proclamation. Upon hearing that shocking declaration, A feigned heart-brokenness. Clutching his heart, he pretended to swoon and addressed Stacia in a disbelieving tone.

“Aunt Stacia! That really hurts!”

Then, with exaggerated sympathy Stacia soothed, “But Anderson, YOU’RE my favorite Anderson.” Of course Anderson immediately recovered from “the big one” and began to giggle.

You’ve probably heard it said that “Time flies, when you’re having fun,” but I say, “Time flies whether or not you’re having fun!”

It seems like only yesterday, our son, Stephen, Grayson’s daddy, was only 9 years old. In some ways, it seems like only the day before when I, Papa, Grayson’s granddaddy was still in single digits. In less than a year, Grayson, as well as his cousin, James David, will hit double digits — the big one-oh!

And if we live until Grayson’s 100, it will still seem like it flew by. What are we doing in those short years on earth that will make a difference in somebody’s life? What are we doing with our life that will impact eternity?

Steve Playl — chaplain, columnist, college instructor and former pastor — can be emailed at

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