One of the highlights of my week is on Sunday when one of our daughters, Trissa, does FaceTime with us so we can talk to her and our grandchildren and see them simultaneously. With our children and grandchildren spread from California to Alabama to Alaska, we don’t get to see them near as much as we would like.

My problem is that any call does strange things to my brain. When I’m not on a call, I can think of a million things I want to visit with my children and grandchildren about. But the minute we connect, those things are all gone, and I can’t think of anything to say.

That can be good when others want to talk, because I can just listen. But if they ask how I’m doing, I usually can’t think of anything new. However, sometimes I have the opposite problem, saying things like how I write and getting strange looks from my grandchildren.

One day, when Trissa called, she wanted to show me how much her two-year-old daughter was learning and talking. She prompted her. “Tell Grandpa about the things you like.”

My darling granddaughter just stared at me on the phone. I think she inherited my phone-call-equals-empty-thoughts dilemma.

My daughter tried again. “Claire, do you like macaroni and cheese?”

Claire nodded. “Yes.”

“Do you like pizza?”

Claire again nodded and said yes.

“What else do you like?” Trissa asked.

“Bampa,” she replied.

“That’s sweet,” I said.

Trissa nodded. “Yes, but I want her to show you all the new words she’s learned.” She tried again. “Claire, do you like going to the park?”

“Yes,” Claire replied.

“Who do you like to play with at the park?” Trissa asked.

“Bampa,” Claire said.

“How about your brother and sister?” Trissa asked. Claire nodded. “And who else?” Trissa asked.

“Bampa,” Claire replied.

It hardly mattered what Trissa asked about. Claire’s answer was almost always the same. It seems on the phone she is just like me.

Trissa gave up and let her five-year-old, Emily, take the phone. I asked her how she was doing. She told me about her progress in learning to read, including new books she could mostly read on her own. She told me about her friends and things she liked.

When she finished, she asked, “How are you doing, Grandpa?”

I had worked so hard all week moving and mounting cupboards and loading a piano that my whole body ached. Without thinking about the fact that I was speaking to a five-year-old, my brain kicked into allegory mode.

“Well, I have worked so hard and am so sore I think my arms, legs, and back are going to look for employment elsewhere,” I said. “Of course, I am about ready to fire them anyway because they are whiny and not working too well.”

Suddenly, Emily went silent and just stared at me, so after a moment, I said, “Other than that, I’m all right.”

Emily turned and handed the phone back to her mother. “Grandpa talks funny,” she said, “but I still like him.”

I’m glad my grandchildren like me, strangeness and all.