As his family relates precious moments they had with Grandpa, the grieving young son can’t understand ‘where’ Grandpa is. The father wisely portrays Heaven “as any place two people who love each other have shared some time“. The boy grasps the useful lesson that Grandpa’s ‘presence’ lies in his ongoing relevance to their lives, though he no longer physically exists. The understanding enables him to tell them his own memories —this is emotional stuff that Barron has wisely managed!
Parents are generally loathe to present death to their children as being the same nothingness that is one’s existence before conception, seeing such finality as terribly tragic. Where is Grandpa? seems a bit cloying at first, but it comes around to a much more sensible view. Barron presents Grandpa’s ‘afterlife’ as his lasting influence in people’s lives, as his legacy. This is a rare and worthy ‘take’ on the usual lame platitudes that “Grandpa is in our hearts” or “in our memories”.
A child that understands the nature of his own life and mortality can be shown the positive fact that his life is his. That s/he has a limited period of time to make the most of it. He can choose to make himself sensibly and lastingly happy, and perhaps by valuing his own family have a truly memorable and enduring influence on his descendants, after he is gone.
The sooner a child fully understands this view, the less likely he will be to risk his life as foolishly as many young people do. He is more likely to seek a better life for himself than rely on providence and fortune. His life is a wonderful thing worthy of wonderful pursuits.