Tag Archives: memories
My daughter, Terry, teaches yoga on Wednesdays, so every other week I get my youngest grandson, Jesse, for the day. The other grandmother takes the opposite weeks. Terry refers to the plural version of us as “the Grandies.”
It was mostly drizzling yesterday, so after we walked Tess, my golden retriever, Jesse and I decided to go to the Williton library. When he first arrived at my house, he’d been fascinated with my wheeled computer case which was still in the living room from my previous day’s visit to the Somerset Cancer Care group where I gave a 1 ½ – hour talk about Bernie Siegel’s books and a 20-minute meditation that used his creative visualization methods for healing.
Jesse zipped and unzipped the various compartments, and I showed him how to extend the collapsible handle so he could wheel the case around the room. He put a big book in the case and transported it all over the house. Could we bring it to the library? Okay, I said, what a great idea! Jesse insisted on wheeling the case (nearly as big as he is) out to the car and lifting it into the back all by himself. He’s incredibly strong, adept, and patient for a nearly-three-year-old.
When we got to Williton all the car parks were full, so I parked way down a back lane, leaving Jesse and I a fair hike into the town. The minute Jesse got out of the car he unloaded the wheeled case, determined to do it himself. He then proceeded to pull it behind him all the way into town and over to the library at such a fast pace, I had to trot to keep up with him. Occasionally the case would catch on a building corner or pavement edge, halting him with a jerk. Not a problem for the imperturbable Jesse! He’d look back, adjust the case onto the narrow path, and take off once again at full speed. In the meantime, I was his wingman, making sure no vehicles or other pedestrians could be run over by my grandson. God help them, if they got in his way – He was on a mission!
When we reached our destination, the library had two automatic doors to navigate, these being part of a wheelchair friendly, s-bend entrance. It may have been friendly for wheelchairs, but it constituted quite a challenge for a toddler towing a 2-wheeled monster, nearly as big as him. I was directed by my grandson to stand aside, for he was capable of getting it through those doors, all by himself. Having been the youngest child in my family tree, I understood the importance of his request and said, “Okay, Jesse… go for it!” And go he did. The quiet library became a lot less quiet upon our entrance, but nobody seemed to mind when they saw the cause of the minor commotion. Smiles and charmed expressions of “awhhh” followed Jesse’s stage-left to stage-right entrance.
We parked the wheeled monster in a safe place then navigated over to the child’s reading corner. The library has a wonderful assortment of colorful, creative seating for kids – everything from a wooden steam engine filled with books and bench to pooh bear cushioned cubes. Jesse led me straight to the “oooh oooh train,” sat down on the bench, and pointed to the 8” space beside him. “Sit here, Grannie C.”
Now the last time I looked at the width of my derriere, I’m sure it was greater than the space Jesse’s chosen seat afforded. Being a very special grannie, however, I prepared to wiggle my butt down into that wedge of space, which seemed to shrink in size the closer I got to it, while my bottom appeared to grow proportionately bigger. As I squatted my knees creaked like a door in a haunted house.
“Let me know if I’m squashing you,” I said to Jesse, realizing that I’d reached the point of no return. If he squealed now, my only recourse was to fall forward onto the floor, flat on my face in a most inelegant, but perhaps entertaining way for grandsons. The things I do for love…
After we read about ten very entertaining books, Jesse popped out of the train seat and I did the grannie version of popping out – a much slower unfurling in an upward direction, using book shelves as props. Thank goodness they were bolted to the floor.
Jesse retrieved the parked black bag on wheels, which I now realized could be mistaken for a UED (unexploded device). Luckily no alerts had been declared, no armies called upon, no panics risen – this was just a quiet little village library where nasty things don’t happen, and all is well with our little world – thank goodness.
Jesse’s exit was smoother than his entrance, proving that practice does reap positive results. He high-tailed it back towards the town center, ‘Grannie C’ doing her best to keep up the pace and protect passersby, while alerting Jesse to the dangers in his environment. “Puddle ahead, Jesse! Go AROUND it, please, not through it. Mind that lady – don’t knock her over – there’s a good boy. Let the lorry go first, Jesse. Not a good idea to challenge lorries. They always win.”
Jesse came to a sudden halt at the café we’d passed earlier. The cakes in the window had missed his glance before, but not this time. “How about stopping for a piece of cake?” I asked. Apparently that was the right question.
I quickly learned that the fewer choices a child is given, the better. Decisions between one good thing and another are nigh impossible to make, so I said to the lady behind the counter, “Jesse and I will split that big chocolate brownie.” He looked pleased and relieved at my taking the bull by the horns to make such a crucial executive decision. In return, I let him choose the table. We stored the UED-on-wheels under the table and sat down to a chocolate indulgence. I was glad we split the bar in half; it was so rich a whole slice would have been too much for me, let alone for Jesse.
After our café treat, we clambered back to the car and drove to the beach so Tess could have a good run. While Tess had her explore, Jesse did what kids do, no matter the weather. He got down in the sand and started digging. His little hands grew red from the cold, but they worked diligently nevertheless. Woe to any rock that thought it had a safe haven from weather; as soon as Jesse uncovered one he’d toss or heave it out of the hole and onto the beach. The rocks would have to wait for the next storm to provide a sandy cover again. For now exposure to the elements seemed to be their destined lot; it’s a good thing they’ve got hard skin.
Lungs filled with fresh air and clothes with wet sand, we drove back to the house and had a late lunch together.
Finger food is Jesse’s favorite. Those crunchy, dried green beans from Africa always bring a smile to his face, plus the sharp cheddar cheese that I tell him “will knock your socks off.” He looks at his feet and back at me, then laughs at the joke. Chopped apple, a sprinkle of cinnamon, some cranberry/pumpkin seed bread toasted and buttered with Terry’s plum jam, a few grapes, and we’ve got a feast fit for a king, let alone a nearly three-year-old boy. He slowly devours them all while we talk about things boys like.
Today’s subject covers favorite songs, Jesse’s currently being a condensed version of Baa Baa Black Sheep, and I tell him about the Take Me Out To The Ball Game song that everybody sings at baseball games in America. I realize he doesn’t have a clue about baseball, so I take the opportunity to introduce my grandson to the American tradition. This is, after all, essential education!
We go into the living room to my big screen computer, and he sits on my lap while I find a YouTube video with people singing the song at a game. We watch the baseball play and sing the song along with the crowd, and every time we come to the end, Jesse wants to do it again. I fill him in on the roles of the batter, catcher, and pitcher, and we laugh at the men sliding into each other at the bases and the guy who leaps to catch the fly ball but takes a dive over the wall and lands on his nose, feet flapping in the air, as the crowd behind him clamor to catch the ball. “Batter’s got a HOME RUN!” I shout, and Jesse gets excited, though he doesn’t really understand why.
Jesse asks for a digger video next, so I find a 20-minute video of three diggers, cranes, and dump trucks working on clearing a building site. He is transfixed by these machines and talks about what they are doing – the size of the load – where they are dumping – the difference between one truck and another – the distance the digger arm reaches. I can’t help but get enthused with him, for he’s showing me how to see them through his eyes, and it is impressive – almost miraculous – what they are capable of. While I give Jesse some Yankee culture, he gives me an education on big plant machines.
After a while, I go over and sit on the sofa next to Tess, leaving Jesse in my chair to watch the last few minutes of a scene with power jack hammer digging up the pavement. When I look back at him, he’s seated in my chair but he’s not looking at the screen. He’s looking at me. His eyes land on mine, and he holds my gaze for such a long time with what can only be called an eye-hug. The love in his eyes is so obvious it brings tears to mine. I gaze back at him and stay inside the moment, sending him an eye-hug back, soaking up everything this moment contains, knowing it won’t last long. One day Jesse will be grown and he’ll be interested in doing all kinds of things – few of them involving his grannie. But now he’s honestly enjoying his time with me, and I’m treasuring my time with him.
A few floor games later, we realize it’s nearly 4pm, time to get his sisters. Though we usually walk, I decide to drive to the school because it’s started to rain again and we’ve already been wet and dried once today, which is plenty enough for me. Izzy and Raffy look happy to see us, pile into the car with their stories and school gear, and off we go to their house. A hot mug of ginger tea and a couple card games of rummy at the kitchen table are a fun way to enjoy the girls. Terry soon arrives home with Farley, the oldest grandson, and as she and Jim go about making supper, Farley joins the card game, only to slaughter his grannie and sisters with his rummy hand.
Finally I head home for my own supper and an evening’s appointment on Skype to record one hour of Ted’s story interview for his memoir. The nearly ninety year old glows as he recalls his working days on Panama Canal, his time in the Navy during WWII, and 14 years of mining gold up in the Yukon during the 60s – 70s. As I listen to Ted, all I can see in my mind are Jesse’s eyes, not blinking, not averting, but really looking into mine, sending a love message, a hug like no other.
And I know I have the best memories of all.
He knew the fragility of frozen grass
Cells thin as a skin of glass
when trod upon, they break
shards of wet ice crushed into green Slurpies
Not good for lawns
My puppy’s paws left mitten-size tracks
dark green patches on white
Beside her paw-spotted trail, my angel
spread green wings and skirt
I couldn’t wait for snow
That was when he said “Don’t walk on frost”
That was a long time ago
This morning’s dawn woke to me walking the paths
Following, my old dog chose the frosted grass
No mitten marks from her
just two green trails – silhouettes on white
parallel stories of arthritic joints
dragging her feet like an old woman
Crystal-dusted shrubs frosted with fog
caught my attention
Gradually my shadow appeared
long and slippery
and buttery heat stroked my back
as the faceted ice began to dance
for the sun
glittering splintered rainbows
Crystals died in the warmth of morning
Just like him
green angels and memories
wait upon patience
for winter’s next
walking on frost
One Shot Wednesday
Photo courtesy of Google Images: http://footprintsofabackpacker.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/P1020315.jpg
Spent the day with my grandson,
took him to the baseball game
and showed him how they play over here;
Here, where it’s not cricket and cream teas,
but hot dogs, coke and dusty diamonds.
Taught him all the words that frame the game
and that made him sound cool when he spoke them,
and the other kids looked at him and smiled
like they understood, like he was one of us.
We walked up the hillside, behind second base
where the grass is left to grow tall,
and I showed him how to pull a straw, suck on it
and chew the end, getting all the sweet goodness out,
letting the wispy fronds hang down like a half-woken flag,
too hot and too humid to raise itself and wave.
Bought him a piece of bubble gum and watched him chew,
saying with a wink, it might be best not to tell your Mummy
about this, seeing as she pays the dentist bills,
and then I showed him how to blow a bubble
and slap that darned gum all over his face.
And we each took a blade of grassleaf and I showed him
how to hold it – real taut – between his thumbs
and keep them stood straight together, side by side,
and we blew until the screeching whistles made us jump,
and then his sounded like one of his Daddy’s farts.
Boy, you should ha’ seen his smile.
I could have canned his giggle and kept it
for cheering me up on lonely days.
When he stood up, leaned over and spit,
just like the pitcher and the other big boys,
I suggested that was one habit he might not want
to bring home to England from America.
They wouldn’t think it was too cool over there,
and he could even get arrested for doing it in public.
His eyes grew big and round, wondering if I was just
‘pulling his leg,’ another american turn of phrase,
but I didn’t see him spit anymore, and he sort of stared
under heavy, shaded brows every time he saw
one of those boys lean over and spit, as if
he was trying to figure out for himself why
they kept committing crimes in public.
I hoped I wasn’t confusing him too much.
After the long, hot day that passed in record time,
and after he turned the bath water brown,
I wrapped him up in a fluffy big towel,
held him on my lap, sitting on the porch rocker
and we sang the take me out to the ballgame song,
and his eyelids started to hang heavy, and I thought
I’d better get him inside and put his pj’s on,
before he’s too heavy with sleep to carry.
But then his eyes opened wide; he squirmed
and pulled his clean arm out of the towel wrappings.
He looked up into the sky, a sky that wasn’t quite sure
if it was finished for the day, cause it was still hanging on to the blue,
and the moon was rising up like it had places to go tonight,
and my grandson pointed to it, and he said,
“Look, Grannie Cindy, there’s a fly ball!”
Thursday Poets Rally http://thursdaypoetsrallypoetry.blogspot.com/