Their bodies are fragile, rickety; but their smiles are radiant.
I support elbows and assist stiff limbs into my little golf-cart shuttle.
I tell them to hang on and I try to ease the cart forward gently. It's a bumpy ride across the grass and I worry that we'll spill walkers, lawn chairs, creaking bodies. But somehow, we make it.
I help them off the cart and the little leaguers run toward Pop and Gram, Gramps and Nana, Papa and Grandma. This is my favorite part: watching the reunions.
The old, wrinkled faces light up. The sun shines and the children escort their forebears to a place of honor.
It's Grandparents' Day at the ball field. And it's my job to ferry them back and forth between games and parking lots. I look forward to this day each year.
I don't have Grandparents. One set is dead from poor eating habits and 50 years of smoking. The other set are still alive but we are estranged. Religious fanaticism, adultery, fraud and lies broke any ties that once bound us.
"I have three words for you," a hobbling grand-dad said as I shuttled him to his grand-sons' game.
"What's that?" I asked, smiling.
He took my hand and pressed it, warmly. "You are precious."
I thanked him and said it was my privilege to help him. And I meant it.
But there is a catch in my throat. What is it like to have extended family? To have uncles, aunts, grandparents who show up for the small things: a ball game, a birthday party, a family dinner?
I watch these multi-generational families and their quiet strength. Families who have lived here for half a century, whose children have come back to raise their own children here.
"Service with a smile!" a Grandmommy remarks, patting my shoulder. She's not the only one. Over and over they thank me, these old ones. It seems like such a small thing: helping with chairs and walkers, ferrying them around. But not one of them leaves without thanking me.
I am humbled by their overwhelming gratitude.
James and Jude both score runs on Grandparents' Day. And James earns a blue star for catching an outfield pop fly and then throwing it home for a double play.
Matt's mom is there and so is my Dad. He watches the game from the Grandparent parking lot where he's offered to fill in for one of our volunteer shifts.
I may not have Grandparents, but my children do. And that's good enough for me.