Since August is almost over, I’d like to share with you this summertime anecdote. It happened at a barbecue. I forget the occasion but recall that my Grandpa helmed the grill while the adults mingled and sipped grape-flavored soda.

The grandchildren, and there were plenty of us, were left to our own devices – which usually involved a large steel crate filled with miscellaneous athletic equipment. The crate rarely emerged from its home in the garage, but when it did, all the grandchildren pounced. I waited until most of the items were taken, settling on a mildly deflated plastic ball.

My brother and I were tossing the ball back and forth in the backyard; he was having a grand ole time while I merely “participated” (I simply wasn’t much of a ball-thrower.). We were in close quarters with the rest of the party, and on several occasions the ball came awfully close to landing on the grill. My dad was the first to take notice at the looming disaster.

“Watch out for Grandpa!” he cried.

Of course, I ignored him and hurled the ball with all my might.

Looking back, I’m reminded of the few seconds preceding impact in a car crash. I knew what was going to happen but could do nothing to prevent it. I watched helplessly as the ball soared across the humid summer sky and into the fire pit.

Now I had heard the stories of the younger Grandpa, the strict disciplinarian who maintained order with a wooden paddle and a leather belt. But much to my surprise, Grandpa was strangely indifferent. He simply dumped some water on the flame and threw out the spoiled food.

Perhaps he was too old to care about a measly barbecue. Or perhaps he found solace in the fact that my dad, his son, was there to discipline me for him.