The night after my arrival in North Carolina I went up to bed covered in red, yellow, green, and purple stars. A tiny red heart was pasted on my cheek. Gabriella placed them there as rewards, and they are valued emblems. When I take off my sweater I am careful not to dislodge them. I will wear this sweater again, stickers and all, as long as they stay on.
When I arrived, Nico and Gabriella both ran to me, arms outstretched, smiling, shouting "Grandma!", completely forgiving me for leaving them last time and for staying away so long. I have done nothing to deserve this generosity of spirit – it comes from them. My only dilemma is how to hug both of them at once, how to show both of them how much I love them. At dinner, they both want to sit beside me, and I am only too happy to oblige.
Nico entertains with 4 and a half year old humor, i.e. made-up words and the occasional poo-poo joke, which I try to not notice too much. Gabriella is all 3- year- old- girl charm, sweet smiles, giggles, and silly faces. They both ask me about my sore foot. They have made green soup with their mommy to make me better.
In the morning, barely awake, I hear muffled footsteps on the carpet. A barely audible knock. A whispered, "Grandma, are you awake?" I turn to welcome whichever child has come first, sometimes Gabriella and sometimes Nico. I could sleep some more, but don’t want to waste a minute with them. The second child is not far behind. They climb onto the bed for a cuddle, and we whisper secrets for a few minutes. I entertain fantasies that we will all fall asleep again. Then they scramble down to fetch a book, one for each, which we will read together before breakfast. We now have a stack beside the bed, Nico’s favorite dinosaur and solar system books, and Gabriella’s current favorite, an animal sticker book.
Monica, their mother, even brings me a cup of coffee to help open my eyes while I am reading books with them. Their affection for me surely owes something to her own, to her training of them, and her own standards of right and wrong actions. I am brimming with gratitude.
- IN THE DARK
- More North Carolina