From Chicken Soup for the Father & Son Soul

Three Peas in a Pod

On a beautiful summer afternoon, I sat under the tall redwood trees on a rustic log bench, watching my husband, James, and his father, Carl, throw horseshoes. The game of horseshoes takes practice and a certain amount of skill to perfect. Though I never played, my husband had explained and even demonstrated the different techniques involved in simply holding the horseshoe . . . then, of course, a player must stand a certain way to step off for the toss. Tossing the horseshoes can be done several ways, but James and Carl preferred holding the horseshoe on its side and making it flip a couple of times before reaching the peg. The game of horseshoes is a family tradition on my husband’s side, and anytime we have a family gathering, you will find the men in the backyard tossing horseshoes. I should mention that most of the women could take on the men and hold their own as well.

This particular day it was just the two of them playing. I had brought Bradley, my four-year-old son, out to play on the tire swing, but he soon wearied of that and wanted to join his dad and grandpa at horseshoes. Grandpa handed him one, then bent down on one knee to show him how to hold it and how to swing his arm. James showed him how to step off and toss. Before long little Bradley had the hang of it. The three of them stood at the same end taking turns throwing their horseshoes. When all three had thrown, they walked side by side to the other peg and retrieved their horseshoes, counting points as they did. Bradley watched everything his dad and grandpa did and mimicked them closely. I was proud of how quickly he learned to play.

My mind wandered as the game continued, and I took a minute to give God thanks for blessing me with such a wonderful family. How blessed we were to be able to grow as a family and to have parents who taught our children such wonderful things as horseshoes!

I heard cheering and congratulations coming from the three players as my mind returned to the present. Bradley had gotten a “ringer”! Of course he was allowed to stand closer to the peg because of his age. My little guy beamed with pride and joy as he ate up the praise from his two heroes. As the three of them turned their backs to me and walked side by side to retrieve their horseshoes, I marveled at the similarity in them. All three walked with their shoulders held back, arms down at their sides; even their strides were the same . . . like three peas in a pod! I laughed aloud with the sheer joy of seeing something so touching, and I knew it was a memory I would never forget.

When my son was thirteen, we moved from California to my home state of Texas. There, our son and two daughters met their life mates, married, and started their own families. Many times I wish we were still living near my in-laws so that my grandchildren could grow up around their great-grandparents. How wonderful it would be to see my grandchildren benefit from the values learned from their great-grandparents’ generation. Sadly, because of their advanced age and the miles between us all, I knew it would never be.

Recently James and I spent the weekend with our three children and thirteen grandchildren at the lake. We brought along a baseball and mitts, Frisbees, dominoes, board games, and, of course, horseshoes. I sat and watched all the activity around me. Two of my teenage grandsons were playing catch. My sons-in-law were playing dominoes, and my husband, son, and nine-year-old grandson were playing horseshoes. From the corner of my eye I just happened to catch the three of them walking back to retrieve their horseshoes. My eyes became misty and a lump formed in my throat. I laughed out loud with joy as I noted the three players walking with their shoulders held back, arms down at their sides, and even their identical strides . . . like three peas in a pod! I recalled a day years earlier as I marveled at history repeating itself. That’s the moment I realized I didn’t need to be sad at the absence of the great-grandparents in my grandchildren’s lives. It was so obvious that they were present in every act, no matter how small, handed down from them to their son, James, and his son, Bradley, and his son, Nathan.

I stood and watched each activity around me and I saw myself in my daughters as they laughed, served plates, chased their little ones. I saw my mother-in-law and her mother when I heard my daughter say, “Well, I declare!” I saw my own mother in the way my children scolded their little ones, then loved on them to remind them they were loved. If I looked closely enough I could see mannerisms, speech, and actions reminding me of many loved ones now departed. As I watched my large family interacting, I wrapped my arms around my body, closed my eyes, and thanked God for reminding me of all life’s blessings.

Christine M. Smith

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners