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Harris Blackwood: For Walter, the sweetest thing this side of heaven
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians was a popular dance band from the 1930s to the 1970s. 

I saw them perform in person at Jimmy Carter’s inaugural ball in Washington in 1977. The other act was the Allman Brothers Band. There was no confusing the two.

Lombardo called his style, “The Sweetest Music This Side of Heaven.” He even had a song with that name.

I have heard a lot of performers in my time, but one of the sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard has come from a little fellow who is 16 months old. Our grandson, Walter, is trying very hard to say our grandparent names, Nana and Pa.

Na-nuh, he will attempt to say when prompted. Pa comes out a bit breathy. I’ll take it.

I love hearing his little feet running his favored route through our living room and kitchen. Once he started walking, he has only one tempo and that’s full speed ahead.

My favorite thing is when we see him for the first time in a few days. He will see me and come running right to me. It’s the best feeling in the world.

When he spends the night, the breakfast of choice is one of Pa’s pancakes. He doesn’t care much about syrup, but he grabs a handful of pancake and goes to town. He’s not a heavy baby, but he does like to eat.

I have several pictures of him on my smartphone and if you want to see one, I’m quick to show him off. He is a handsome lad and is very photogenic. Nana has more pictures of him than I do.

Our house has become a museum of pictures of Walter. Last year, he was happy in his photos with Santa. I worry that he will be afraid of the jolly old elf this year. We’ll think he is cute, nonetheless.

On a Friday or Saturday, we are like giddy school kids if his mom calls offering us a chance to keep him. If she says yes, we run to the car and head to their house.

When I see commercials for places like Disney World, I begin to have daydreams about taking him to see Mickey Mouse, who he can already identify. We know the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song (Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog).

I just hope he doesn’t ask me tough questions, like why Pluto, a dog, cannot talk, but Goofy, also a dog, can.

We sing a lot. We sing songs with motions, like blowing the train whistle or just clapping your hands. He loves to sing and dance. For us, it is the sweetest music this side of heaven.

Sometimes, I wish I could bottle this up and reopen it in a few years. I know how quickly our children have grown up and our grand boy will be no exception. It won’t be long before he starts playing tee-ball and just a blink of an eye later he’ll be playing with the big kids.

We are cherishing every moment with our little fellow and I’m tucking away every special memory that he gives us.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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