In this family, time together and lots of hugs is the secret to creating lasting memories

by Bruce Clayton

Sandra, Michael, Jocelyn (in pink) and Hailey wait to greet Grandma and Grandpa.

Sandra, Michael, Jocelyn (in pink) and Hailey wait to greet Grandma and Grandpa.

A few years before COVID hit, my wife, Marianne, and I took a trip to visit our daughter, Sandra, and her family. Michael, her husband, is in the military and they had purchased a house in the Comox Valley area near the base on Vancouver Island. When we arrived at the airport we were greeted by Sandra, Michael and our two granddaughters, Jocelyn and Hailey, with a large sign reading “Welcome to Comox, Grandma and Grandpa.” A fellow traveller came over to us and said, “What a wonderful family, I just had to wait and see who the lucky grandparents were.”

Later during our visit, we were relaxing with some TV time one evening when the girls were told that it was bedtime.  After the usual bath and brushing of teeth was completed, a request from the girls came: “Grandpa, can you tuck us in tonight?”

“It would be my pleasure,” was my reply.

After reading them a book and hugs were given all around, I noticed Hailey was a bit out of sorts. I asked her what the problem was and she told me that she was disappointed because she had to go to bed so early. I asked her if she was a little sad and she said, “yes” with a pout.

I asked her, “Do you know what Grandpa does when he is feeling sad or is having a bad day? I go to my happy place– a place that makes me feel good and safe.” 

Jocelyn asked, “Where is your happy place, Grandpa?”

I replied, “My happy place is on the inside of one of your hugs. It’s the best place in the world to be. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a hug.”

Extra big hugs and kisses were offered that night from two of my favourite girls. The next morning, Sandra was under a bit of pressure to complete an assignment that she had been working on. Her patience had run thin and she was snapping at the girls.

Jocelyn said, “Mom are you having a bad day?” Sandra replied, “I guess I am, dear, I’m sorry.” Jocelyn said, “Would you like to go to Grandpa’s happy place?” With that she walked over to her mother and gave her a big hug. “Grandpa says this is his favourite place.” After some watery eyes and a heartfelt, “I’m sorry,” Sandra returned to work with a big smile on her face.

I cherish my time with family and it is good knowing that what is said with love has an influence on them. We had a wonderful time with them in the weeks that followed and the hugs were plentiful. As the girls grow older, these memories grow stronger. You can never have too many good memories to fall back on. 

Bruce’s story originally appeared in the October/November 2022 edition of Our Canada ( Reproduced with permission.