Mom started an ongoing, amazing project with my kids when they were very small. Her first priority was only inviting one kid at a time to stay with her and Dad. That way, my one-of-three was the center of attention while they were in Rock Valley. She was convinced each were the brightest toddlers in the universe (which is a pretty standard behavior and belief of most grandparents). How they became so gifted with such superior intellect was never questioned. She knew from my report cards I was not cut from the same cloth as those individuals belonging to Mensa International.
Mom kept most everything, the most-organized-neatest-bordering-hoarder known to mankind. Worksheets from school, articles with my name in the school newspaper or The Bee, the dress I attempted to sew in Home Ec (the reality was actually 90% machined stitched by my teacher, Miss Weiner. Thanks for the help and passing me that year). Which is why it’s puzzling after Mom passed away in 2004 there were a few items I was expecting to see again but never found. One was a red wool jacket from Tijuana she bought me when we went to California in 1960. It had hand stitched appliqués and beadwork and fit this 9 year old for a couple years. After I outgrew it I never saw it again so assume she gave it to someone, which was not like her at all. With sentimental things, she was a saver-not a giver-awayer.
The other perplexing thing which disappeared could fill a 3 ring binder. Twice. She got on this kick when Shannon, our first born was about 16 months and started verbalizing, using the vocabulary of gifted kindergartners. (She was advanced for her age. Guess parents think the same as most grandparents right)? Mom started filling a notebook titled, “Conversations with Shannon.” Brilliant, hilarious, quote worthy quips from their littles (which moms and dads should write down but are too busy, frazzled or tired). But this is the kind of stuff mom, ‘Mimi’ to my kids had been waiting for her whole life.
But when Dad, Mona and I cleaned out their house neither the Mexican jacket or Mom’s conversations with my kids were found. Hard to believe, she must have thrown them out. Or I missed finding them. She had some clever hiding places but these reams of paper would not be something she would have hidden. More likely sitting in a knitting basket next to her chair so she could peruse them over and over while laughing/crying about their content and the sweet memories they invoked. Whatever the reason, I did not find them.
A couple weeks ago my granddaughter Ariana asked if I could pick up her and my 4 year old great-granddaughter Jovi after they dropped her car off to be detailed (real meaning, shoveled, shampooed, hosed, vacuumed and have 3 layers of dirt and dust scraped from the dash and windshield). As adorable as those 2 are, both have issues keeping a car tidy, so they were letting someone else do the dirty job. Where’s Mike Rowe when you need him? I zoomed right past the place, had to turn around, waiting 2 minutes to drive 100 feet before hitting the right entrance.
Ari lugged Jovi’s car seat (which needed a thorough scrubbing as bad as the car, but even a guy testing the waters of new business has his limits) to my car. Mommy snaked her way around my backseat, securing Jovi in her car seat and plops a small backpack on the floor and goes back to talk to the detailer (now on a backhoe). Jovi gives me a 100 watt smile and says, “hi grandma, you found us. Where’s grandpa?” (Guess we are forever known as a twosome, joined at the hip). “He’s waiting for us to come and have supper at our house.” “Ok,” she says dubiously, further confirming we obviously always need to be in the same place at the same time.
She leans over as far as her car seat belt allows and snags one strap of her backpack. “Do you have any snackies for me?” “Ah no, supper is ready and we don’t want to ruin your appetite. We’re gonna eat as soon as we get to our house.” “Can we check the magic drawer first?” She pronounces it do-war. (This tradition started a couple years ago when I had been on a trip and brought her back a t-shirt. I didn’t think she’d be very excited getting clothes so I added some M &M’s and a couple of circus peanuts to a snack bag on top of the t-shirt in a drawer of my dresser) “Sure but if there’s anything in the drawer you have to wait until we have supper and then ask mommy first, ok?”
Jovi unzips her backpack, grabs a small notepad and a miniature magic marker. (My jeep, yikes). Just then Ari slides in the front seat and says, “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to write or draw in grandma’s car Jovi. Can you wait until we get to grandma’s house?” “No, I’ll be careful. Will you take the lid off my marker please?” (Who can say no when she’s so polite, right)?
It’s only 3 miles to our house. About half way there, Miss quiet-as-a-mouse pipes up with, “I’m done with your letter grandma. Here, take it.” “Thanks so much Jovi, I didn’t know you were writing me a letter. But I’m driving and can’t look at it right now.” One minute later we’re at a stop sign, so Ari and I glance at the note that’s resting in my drink holder. Mommy quietly pointed out a logical sequence of letters (when you’re 4) to me. With a little squinting you could see what she was trying to convey.
“Wow Jovi, this looks awesome, especially since I was driving on a bumpy road. You’re getting so good at writing your letters. I’m proud of you.”
“Thanks grandma. Read the letter to me.” A ‘gotcha moment’! Well played Jovi. My mini-Mensa snookered her grandma. I should have started documenting these snippets of conversations with my grands and great-grands years ago. While there should be a hundred conversations in a notebook by now, this is one of the few that’s written down. But this cute one just popped into my head from about 7 years ago.
Our grandson Graham was about 4 and spending the day at our house. We were making cookies for him to take home. I kept a large bag of assorted chips in the cupboard, milk chocolate, semi-sweet, white chocolate, mini morsels, butterscotch chips. When I opened the bag so Graham could pick what kind of chips he wanted in his cookies he said, “how come you have so many bags of chocolate chips?” “Hmmm, I like to keep a variety so when I decide to make something that calls for chips, I already that kind in the house. I really don’t like to run out of stuff.” His eyes were as big as saucers, he lowered his voice, glanced around and conspiratorially whispered, “does grandpa know how many chocolate chips you have in the house?”
During the grind of every day life, oftentimes it’s the little things that count. We need to pay attention to those. And remember them…