Perhaps it was his apology to his children, after all, his gentleness with and joyful love for his grandchildren.
Or perhaps it was the lessening of pressures due to not having a direct responsibility for the lives of little ones.
Whatever the reason, it helped his children and hurt them at the same time to see what might have been, what they longed for but did not have. While they did not want the grandchildren to have a lesser life with their grandfather, they felt openings, more holes in their own lives witnessing what might have been.
Some holes became filled with bad habits and some remained unfilled like Langston’s open sore, weeping then crusting over, and sometimes exploding. A breakdown. A prayer. An addiction. A hesitance. More holes.
And sometimes, poems.
Image in the public domain, The Favorite – Grandfather and Grandson, by Georgios Jakobides (1890)