For six months Grandma Wright had been asking her husband to build her an arch for her garden. She wanted a nice white arch at the end of the brick walkway which led to the wooded area behind their home. Finally, but reluctantly, Grandpa Wright finally agreed to construct it.
He built the arch and placed it exactly where Grandma wanted it. The project meant little to him and he was relieved to have it done.
One weekend their grandson, six year-old Billy, came to stay with them. The first thing he noticed was the arch.
“Wow, that’s a neat arch,” Billy said.
“It’s just an arch,” Grandpa said. “Just a plain old arch.”
Billy stared at the arch for quite some time. “Grandpa, it’s not just a plain old arch. Look through it and you can see the wild animals out there.”
Grandpa peer through the arch. “What are you talking about, Billy? I don’t see any wild animals.”
“Grandpa, look again,” Billy said. “Don’t you see the fox? And there’s a tiger. And over there’s a big lion.”
Grandpa scratched his head, leaned forward, and looked through the arch again. “You must be seeing things. There are no animals out there.”
“Oh, yes, Grandpa, there are,” Billy insisted. “Quick, look now, there’s a man riding on an elephant and they’re chasing the lion.”
Grandpa couldn’t see any man or elephant. He became concerned about what Billy thought he was seeing because there was simply nothing there.
That night, after Billy went to bed, Grandpa mentioned the situation to Grandma. He wondered if he should sit down and talk with Billy about it and explain that’s there’s nothing beyond the arch.
Grandma looked at Grandpa and chuckled. “You’re seventy-five years old. Billy’s six. He’s still got his imagination, thank goodness, and you lost yours a long time ago. And that’s sad. So don’t you dare sit down and try to squelch his wonderful imagination. If you say anything at all to him you need to let him know it’s okay to see things others don’t, to believe even when others disbelieve. And just for your information, all the world’s great inventions and creative works started with a vivid imagination. And I won’t charge you one thing for that bit of information.”
That night Grandpa didn’t sleep well. He kept thinking about what Grandma said. The next morning he got up early, got his cup of coffee, grabbed a chair from the patio, and sat down in front of the arch. When Billy went outside to ask him what he was doing, Grandpa said, “Shhh, don’t talk loud, Billy. You’ll scare away the giraffes that are standing there.”