My nephew Casey

As he jumped into my lap to give me a hug and a kiss, my nephew Casey brought with him his constant companion, an invisible parcel of permanent baggage, that is to say, his curiousity.

At the tender age of three, Casey possesses the ability to pose a question that will thwart even the most proliferate of armchair philosophers. On this particular occasion, he asked something that merits a genuine answer, not just a trite, pat response to satisfiy a momentary quandry.

He hugged me, gave me a kiss, and I returning the affection said, “I love you, Casey.” And instead of reflexively responding, “I love you, too.” or even ignoring it, Casey paused, and with a look of pained comtemplation dominating his face said, “Why do you love me?”

Momentarily stunned by the query, I Iaughed, more or less to buy time and to see if he intended to pursue this line of questioning. And Casey, calling my bluff, looked at me with the same intensity that perhaps drives most monks or triatheletes and asked again, “Why do you love me?”

Now he had me on my heels, I felt like saying, “because you are so darn cute,” but even I could see the shallowness of that and groping for more perservering qualities, I doubt I ever provided a satisfactory answer. The critical point, however, as a friend pointed out to me, is the remarkable ability that this miniature sage has to cut to the heart of the matter.

After all, I often say [and many times even believe] that the things that matter in this life have to do with other people; that our legacy is not forged in acquisition, fortune or conquest, but rather our dealings with those around us. We will be remembered, if at all, not for our having reached the top, but for how we dealt with those we encountered along the way.

In his simplistic, loving, three-year old, Power Ranger-idolizing way, Casey seems to have a grasp of this. And as such, may have hold of one thing that will make his time on this earth worthwhile, and yes, perhaps even memorable.

Then again, this is the same kid to once ate a booger and said, “Umm, good.”