We celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary in a very different and special way, and we couldn’t be happier with our day. Usually we like being by ourselves, going someplace special and having a nice quiet dinner out.

This year, our daughter Stacey asked if we could watch our grandson Lucas for a good chunk of the day and, of course, we jumped at the chance to have the little guy all to ourselves. I was able to secure a free pass to Beardsley Zoo for all three of us and Lucas arrived all excited about his upcoming excursion. We couldn’t wait, either, especially to see whether he would respond differently to the zoo two years after his first visit.

On that first excursion, Lucas was not even 5, was very shy and insisted on a stroller. He was not officially adopted and was visiting just for three weeks as part of a fostering program to see whether families here were interested in adopting him and some 23 other children from China. Our daughter had already bonded with this adorable child, and was so ready to sign on the dotted line.

And we were like his special wannabee grandparents, anxious to give Lucas a taste of the United States unlike anything he was used to in his Chinese orphanage. But we managed to have a great time that day at the zoo.

This time, with Lucas now part of our family since June of 2017, we were in awe of his reactions to the animals. His command of the language and adaptation to his new environment were evident as he reacted to tigers and their cubs, the jaguar and leopard and the range of other interesting animals. He literally ran to each sanctuary area, jumping and pointing at these new discoveries. With each stop, he yelled out “Loyeh (grandpa), Lolo (Grandma), look!”

And where we barely managed to stay an hour two years ago, our visit this time was well over two hours.

Once we finished at the zoo, we had to return our free pass to the North Branch Library in Bridgeport. That expected short stop turned into another hour, with Lucas playing on the computer, working on puzzles in the play area and asking me to read three picture books to him.

When we got in the car to head back to our house, I asked Lucas how he liked his special day. I received no answer and looked in the mirror. He was out like a light.

By the time we pulled into the driveway, Lucas was wide awake and ready for his next excursion. I knew exactly where to take him.

He’s been chastising me gently about why his room isn’t ready, and I knew that Lucas loves to help his mom with lots of tasks. So I put him to work with me in his new guest room, unpacking and shelving books. Within an hour, we had unpacked six boxes and shelved more than 50 books. I was amazed with how he pulled out the books, turned them around to all face the same way and put them onto the shelves.

Then Lucas had a great time pushing the boxes down the stairs. He shrieked every time a new box hit the floor in the foyer. Who would have figured that such mundane tasks as unpacking and shelving would bring a little boy so much happiness.

Our daughter returned about 5:30 and, of course, she was hungry. Since we really had no plans for any kind of anniversary dinner, I suggested one of our favorites, Joey C’s Boathouse. Sure enough, our favorite waiter, Joe, who also has become our landscaper, was there and gave us an unforgettable anniversary dinner, including a complimentary dessert of lava cake and cannoli ice cream.

It was great that we were all together, and our only regret was that our other daughter Jeri and her husband Gervasio and their grandson Abdiel couldn’t join us too. Fortunately, they had visited from Michigan over Memorial Day.

By the time we arrived home, my wife and I were completely exhausted. This grandparenting stuff takes a lot of energy, and we’re definitely not as young as we used to be.

On a scale of 1 to 10, this entire day was a 10, and we wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Having Lucas with us on our special day was sheer joy and pleasure and it made our 52nd truly an unforgettable anniversary.