The Ludlow grandchildren at home … they loved each other and loved being around each other, but they were every inch little human beings and therefore prone to conflict and taking sides and egging things on. Since there were seven of them, they could be a handful on their crabby days, enough to bog down a household.
However, the Ludlow grandchildren were extremely well-behaved … they knew someone was always listening, and in addition to God, Grandpa had really good ears. He worked from 7-3, but when the noise became too loud and voices in strife stuck out, that huge basso profundo voice rumbled and cut under all of it.
At least one grandchild would hear that, like distant thunder … like trouble, just over the horizon that you could put your ear to the ground to hear if you had a Native foster parent who had loved you and taught you how – thus, 10-year-old Andrew ALWAYS heard this.
“Hey, y'all – hey!” he said.
Oh, they all heard that … Capt. R.E. Ludlow had always selected hard floors and had learned the resonance of every one of them that he had lived on with his growing gaggle of grandchildren, so he with his colossally deep voice could make the world vibrate under their feet when their behavior needed to be changed.
“Uh oh,” 5-year-old Robert said, for he had been with his grandfather the longest. “Time to get out of trouble.”
Mrs. Ludlow usually came out of wherever she was.
“Better get it straight, y'all,” she said, and departed, perfectly content with her husband's remote manner of adjusting the children's behavior, and knowing that he would smile on hearing her input.
Wrestling matches stopped, toys were handed back, things messed up and being argued over were cleaned up and repaired together, or Mrs. Ludlow's help asked for and received.
If apologies were needed to be given and received, it happened between five and seven, and then when hugs broke out, the count-up stopped.
On this particular day, 6-year-old Grayson asked 11-year-old Eleanor, “I wonder what happens at 10?”
Eleanor, approaching the edge of adolescence, got a look of compassion and protective love on her face that recalled Mrs. Ludlow.
“Grayson, do you want to live to see 10 years old?”
“Do you think Grandpa having to ever count all the way to 10 works with that?”
Grayson never even hesitated.
“There is your answer, Grayson.”
Grayson considered this, his little mind just working.
“I don't understand,” he said, “but I do understand, and the do understand is a lot bigger than the don't understand.”
Not once had Capt. R.E. Ludlow had to count above a seven, or come out of his home office.
“Well, God doesn't have to come out of Heaven when He has thunder and grandpas, anyhow,” 7-year-old Amanda said about it when Grayson came back to talk with her about it, “so, Grandpa doesn't have to come out here when his voice alone tells us we need to stop fussing and start loving each other again.”
Grayson reached his arms around his sister.
“Here's an extra hug, just in case.”
Amanda hugged him back.
“And here's an extra kiss!” she said before planting a big one on his forehead.