July 13th was my paternal grandfather’s 136th birthday. He died while I was still a child. My memories of him involve paper road maps and knots in shoelaces.
Google has long since replaced paper road maps, but we did not have Google when I was a kid. People used large maps that folded up. I used to like opening the maps and looking at them as if I knew what I was doing. Of course, I had no clue what I was looking at other than pretty colors and intricate designs.
I could never fold the maps back into their original form. As hard as I tried, I could never get it.
I would bring the map to my grandfather and say, “Grandad, I tried to fold this, and I can’t get it.”
Grandad would smile, and then take the map and have it folded correctly within seconds.
“Thanks, Grandad,” I would say.
Grandad tried to show me how to fold the maps, but I could never get it.
It was the same with my shoelaces. I could tie my laces, but often I would tie them in a knot that I could not untie.
“Grandad, I can’t get this knot untied.”
Grandad would smile, and then untie the knot in seconds.
“Thanks, Grandad,” I would say as I walked away.
Over the years, folding maps and untying knots were no longer issues. But I encountered other seemingly unsolvable problems. When that happened, I would think, “Grandad, I can’t get this.” At some point, whether a sudden flash of insight or after a good night’s sleep, the solution would come.