How it humbles me to know — that my granddaughter’s suitcase has been packed since four o’clock yesterday — that she could hardly wait to spend time with me.
Relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren are as mystical as the nature of time and life itself. Without trying to reduce it to words, all I can say is that what is ordinary somehow becomes extraordinary when “grand” people get together. It was that way with me and mine, that way between my children and theirs and now, it appears, it’s also that way with my own ‘grands.’
Me and this once curly top grandchild of mine — the one coming today — go way back. We spent many days together, Curly Karson and I — the best part of two years — back during her Shirley Temple look-alike years, when this photo was taken, in the midst of her third year of life. Six years fast-forward, she’s in the middle of her ninth year. And, I pray, I won’t sound too grandmother-ish by commenting how I think she’ growing up way too fast, which, I fear, means I too, must be growing old right beside her?
Much like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I feel as if I’m standing at the intersection of four different yellow brick roads. From this point of the post, I could take off in many directions. Why if I wished I could write of those lessons Karson taught me — about paying attention to life — which she did, without effort, while I was attending to her young life. “Look, Nana, an airplane!” — “Look, Nana. Birds.” And sure enough. Who but a child would notice them, or regard them as a miracle to share? Airplanes and birds in the sky. Why I learned during those years that there was an ever ready, never ending supply of flying objects to notice — why all one had to do was stop, look and listen to the larger world around them — rather than keeping their heads in clouds or lost in the latest task at hand.
Or shall I recall how Shirley Temple look-alikes run in our family, how my Aunt Carol, when she was a pre-schooler, was ‘discovered’ by a Hollywood talent scout in the late thirties. Oh how he wished to sign her on the spot to play Shirley’s little sister, after seeing my not-yet aunt perform a song and dance routine on top of a neighborhood bar? Funny how Aunt Carol called out of the blue yesterday to make sure I was paying attention to the ‘severe’ weather forecasts, to make sure I had a storm cellar to run to if need arose.
Or do I confess how different today will be, after spending the last three weeks with ghosts of family past — thinking, thinking, thinking — occasionally writing — occasionally uncovering a new puzzle piece to add to the pile — occasionally making a magical connection, locking a couple of puzzling pieces of Dad’s childhood story together. Why his story consumes me. Which is to say, history consumes me, that it consumes the best hours of the day, as time slips like sand through an hourglass, while I sit in a chair with monkeys on my back — stories and old photos spread about me — wondering about next steps. I’m all alone with it, with only Aunt Carol’s memory and historical archives to point me in another direction, in my chase of rainbows and fabled pots of gold lying at tale’s end.
But as for the direction of this post, I suppose it’s most fitting to attend to the present, like Karson taught me all those years ago. She’ll be here in an hour or so. Already, since writing these words, she’s called to let me know how excited she is to come. And do I have exciting plans? Well, no. Not really. Oh, I suppose we’ll make sugar cookies, because as she says, we ALWAYS make cookies, don’t we Nana?
But as for the rest, i don’t know what the day and evening will hold. There’s no use planning it to death, since children, too, prefer wiggle room for rainbow chasing and pots of gold. But, perhaps, if weather forecasters are wrong and weather plays nice, we’ll go to the art museum.
Or, if weather turns nasty and predictable, we can just stay home — pop some corn and watch something stormy on the small screen. Maybe we’ll watch Helen Hunt chase a Twister or two with that Dorothy weather invention of her’s. Or maybe, we’ll immerse ourselves in history, and watch a twister of a different shade that begins in marvelous black and white and dumps an over-the-rainbow singing Dorothy Gail and ToTo, too, into a magical land of living color.
Wherever we land, here’s hoping Karson saved space in that suitcase of her’s for a few grand memories to take home with her.