North Carolina

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. Nicogab32007_003

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.  Nicogab32007_013

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.