The Dragon Rocker
And GiGi's Son

I have two young grandsons, Jack who is 5 and Owen who is 3. Many precious moments occur when I watch them begin to explore their yellow brick roads that lie before them. When visiting my home, they love to see the carved dragons scattered throughout the house that keep watch over my houseguests and me.

To be honest with you, I cannot recall when or why I started a tradition with Jack and Owen as it relates to dragons. Whenever they visit, they will go up to one of the many dragons. They are about to touch the dragon when I will roar like a dragon. They laugh at what Jack calls Papa's teasing.

Description: GiGi

Both the boys have seen this photo of GiGi sitting in her rocking chair, which they call the dragon rocker. When Owen first saw this picture, he thought that the armrests were heads of dragons and would roar. The armrests are actually loins with open mouths. Nevertheless, I have not clarified for the boys the actual type of carving on the armrests. Their fun and laughter related to the dragon rocker is one of those treasures that I enjoy.

I wrote to GiGi that I could not recall when I started this tradition of roaring with grandchildren. In addition, I also do not remember when I developed whatever sense of humor that I have acquired over the years related to dragons in particular.

Case in point. I was riding around the neighborhood one afternoon and came upon a real dragon. We got into a discussion about politics, and he got so outraged with my liberal perspective that he bit my nose. A fierce fight ensued, in which I slayed the dragon. Even though the dragon was dead, I suffered from the fight. I returned to my house and then went to the emergency room to be treated. As it turned out, the dragon also caught me below my right eye.

Description: Al with bandages

Therefore, between the carved dragons around my house and the dragon that I killed recently, dragons have been a part of my life for years. Recently, GiGi emailed me about several of my essays related to these leviathans. She told me that the dragon rocker had been in her family for more than a century.

GiGi then told me about a couple of stories about how she would rock Forrest to sleep when he was a little baby. One story was that he had the colic and would cry for hours on end. Nothing that she would do could settle him down. She wrote that down South years ago that they would dip their finger in some whiskey and let the baby lick the mother's finger. Knowing that I would have raised my eyebrow at giving even a little whiskey to an infant, she wrote that many years ago, the early Greeks gave babies opium and centuries later mothers in the Middle Ages would use opium salve on their nibbles just prior to nursing the baby. I think that it was her way to make the use of whiskey sound better.

GiGi never got into the opium craze but did use whiskey. However, whiskey did not help Forrest to settle down. She spent hours just walking around their home with him in her arms attempting to stop his crying. Finally, after a couple of hours one day, she was exhausted and had to sit down. She was in the living room where the dragon rocker was. Since it was the closest, she just plopped into the rocking chair. In the process, the rocker started to rock. GiGi was amazed. It worked wonders. Within a few moments, Forrest went to sleep. From that day on whenever he would get colicky, GiGi would go to her rocking chair.

GiGi also wrote about reading Forrest stories when he was a toddler. Before tucking him into bed to go to sleep, he would climb up on GiGi's lap as she began to rock. Her mind would drift back to those painful days of colic. Nevertheless, Forrest's excitement about story time caused her to forget his days of discomfort as a new baby.

I emailed GiGi this picture of me stilling in Jack and Owen's great-grandfather's rocking chair while I read and played with them. Owen looked mesmerized by Cookie Monster's hands, which were attached to the book.

Description: Al sitting with Jack and Owen



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