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Do For All

Pioneer-Photo-Albums-Embroidered-200-photo-Live-Laugh-Love-Frame-Album-P13883104Nine years ago when I first became a grandmother, I bought a small burgundy photo album to hold a few pictures of my Grand.  And I told David’s mother, my daughter,  “I’m making David his own album.  A few pictures of him each month. When he’s older, he might like it. ”

Daughter nodded, smiled, and said, “You know, Mom, what you do for one grandchild, you’ll want to do for all.”  Why, oh why, didn’t I take that as discouragement and pretend I’d never thought about this idea?  When Grand # 2 was born, I put her pictures in a green album.  Grand #3’s pictures are in a bright red album.  Now, I have six Grands and six different colored albums.  I never imagined that stuffing a few photos behind plastic sleeves would mushroom into a major under taking.  And sometimes I wish for the old days when a roll of film was developed at the drugstore and I simply got all the pictures developed, good and bad ones.

Now I spend hours, choosing photos and cropping and enhancing and using all those other edit options.  I’m overwhelmed as I decide which pictures to have printed for each Grand.  My older Grands, ages 5, 7 and 9, have taught me a thing or two.  They flip right past those cute baby poses of themselves lying on their stomachs or looking at the camera.  My Grands like the story photos, the action shots.

I order pictures – many, many pictures.  Sometimes six of the same photo.  Everyone needs a family Christmas picture.  And then I have a huge stack of pictures, waiting to be sorted and labeled, that lay on my desk, sometimes for weeks.  I’m determined to label because I have two generations of pictures with no dates or names.

Finally, I have six stacks of pictures and I get out the albums, turn on a little lite jazz music and put all those pictures in plastic sleeves.  And then I make sure my Grands see their new pictures the next time they visit.

They look at their albums and say, “Gran, why is Pop pushing me in a wheel barrow?  Is that at our house?”  It was at his house. The day Pop set up a sand pile in his yard.  That picture was made six years ago.  Why had my Grand never noticed it before?

“Is this when Daddy built that big sand castle at the beach last year?  It looks like I’m pouring water on it.”  He did.  And this Grand poured water as fast as her daddy could build.

“Look at me!  I’ve got chocolate all over my face!”  It was her 4th birthday.

“That’s the day I learned to jump off the diving board!  Did you know I was really scared?”

During those few minutes as my Grands turn pages and talk, I’m convinced that these six albums are worth the time and effort.  I promise myself that the next time I won’t fret and spend so much time choosing and editing.  Even if there’s just one picture for each Grand for each month, that’s enough.

Last week my nine-year-old Grand asked, “Gran, are you going to make a picture album for the new baby too?”  I can’t stop now.  Daughter was right.  What I did for one, I want to do for all.

At the Zoo


DSC01747It was a cold, 50-degree windy day.  A Friday during school spring break when Husband and I visited the Denver Zoo.  And so did hundreds of other people. The Colorado wind blew fiercely. If it’d just been the two of us, I’d have suggested we choose another day to see the animals.   As we got out of the car, Son said, “Dean, we’re in a parking lot.  Choose a hand to hold.”  Our two-year-old Grand screamed, “Pop!” and reached for Husband’s hand.  Husband and Dean walked two steps in front of me.  Son and Daughter-in-law, pushing nine-month-oldNeil in a stroller, led the way. Dean turned to look at me and said, “Come on, Gran!”  He held out his little hand to take mine. The wind blew much less fiercely.


Many groups in the ticket line looked just like us.  Grandparents, parents, grands.  But I doubt that other groups had experienced leaders like ours. “Dean, what’s the first animal Pop and Gran will see?” his mother asked.


“Lions!  GRRRRRR!” Dean said.  Pop and I walked fast to keep up with his churning legs.  The massive male lion lay sleeping on a boulder just a few feet on the other side of the thick glass inside Predator Ridge; the female slept on the ground.  “Pop, pick me up.”   Husband held him and Son stood beside them.  The lion opened his massive copper brown eyes and then yawned.  His head was as big as Neil’s stroller seat and when this cat stood on the rock, his eyes were level with mine.  The female lion stood, looked toward the male, and turned away when he lay down.


Thus, our day began at the Denver Zoo that first opened in 1896.  It encompasses 80 acres and in 1918 was the first zoo in the United States to use naturalistic enclosures instead of cages.  The animals roamed in open spaces, and we walked along wide walkways that followed the lay of the land and were bordered with tall trees and vegetation.


“Look, there’s Bert!  He’s out of the water,” Daughter-in-law said.  Bert is a 57-year-old hippopotamus, and he stood beside a large swimming hole.  I’ve seen many hippos’ heads, but not those enormous bodies.  Bert lumbered close to the edge of the water.  He put one foot in as if to test the water’s temperature.  Then his barrel-shaped body slowly, but not gracefully, entered the pool.  When the water splashed, we all laughed – even Neil.  Then all we could see were Bert’s eyes, tiny ears, and nostrils.


Among the trees of the Primate Panorama, white cloths the size of a sheets, hung on tree branches.  Cloth that looked out of place until we watched an adult orangutan, holding a baby in its arms, wrap the cloth around herself and the baby.


The wind continued.  I stood behind anything or anyone bigger than me to knock the 15-mile-an-hour wind out of my face, and I went inside every building even if I had to maneuver around fifteen baby strollers and didn’t know what animals were inside.


It was a perfect zoo trip.  This day really wasn’t about the animals or the weather.  It was about being with two of our Grands and their parents.  And holding hands.















Easter Eggs




Brown eggs don’t dye pretty colors like white eggs – except for purple.  Brown eggs dipped in purple water turn a beautiful dark wine color.  Most colors – yellow, green, blue – made brown eggs look like a clod of dirt.  Granny’s chickens laid brown eggs and Mom certainly never considered taking only wine colored eggs to the church Easter egg hunt.  That’s why, when I was a kid, Mom bought white eggs to color.


Each church family took colored eggs for the egg hunt.  On Saturday afternoon before Easter Mom boiled several dozen eggs – some white from the grocery store and some brown from Granny’s henhouse.  Mom and I, and my brother if Mom could rope him into helping, (teen-age boys think they’ve outgrown such childhood activities) colored each egg.  We used the Paas dye – tablets that dissolve in water.


Mom didn’t like plain one-color eggs.  We did half blue and half green eggs and tri-color eggs.  We’d color an egg all yellow and then dip each end in blue or red.  Using a paraffin pencil we’d draw designs that wouldn’t absorb color before dunking an egg in a color solution.  We decorated with glitter and sequins —anything to make an egg look fancy.


We colored a few brown eggs in red and purple liquid dyes and used crayons to draw designs on most.  Mom drew rabbits and simple flowers.  My favorite way to color brown eggs was with multi-colored stripes and zigzag lines and circles.  We spent what seemed like all afternoon sitting together at the kitchen table.


I dyed eggs with my children and now with my Grands.  Next week I’ll throw a plastic tablecloth over my kitchen table and bring out boiled eggs and coloring supplies.  The box of Paas dye hasn’t changed – except for the price – in 50 years.  And I’m glad.  There’s something magical about dropping a small colored tablet into three tablespoons of white vinegar and making brilliant colors, before diluting the solution with a half-cup of water.


And ever year, someone asks, “Why do you have to add the vinegar?”  Because the directions say to isn’t a good enough answer.  The vinegar creates an acid solution so that the colors bond with the calcium in the shell. And sometimes there’s more ‘why’ questions.


I know that plastic eggs are cheaper than real eggs and prizes or candy can be put inside each plastic one, but I like real Easter eggs.  The ones you boil and color.  And in the process, it’s a time to talk and laugh and create.  It’s not just about coloring eggs; it’s about the shared experience.


A few days ago, my seven-year-old Grand asked, “Gran, when are we going to color Easter eggs?”  I like that.  She didn’t ask, “Are we going to color Easter eggs?”   She asked, “When?”  Then she said, “I’m going to draw designs with crayons on some.”   Good, because I have some brown eggs to be colored and I don’t like Easter eggs that look like a dirt clods.















Long Distance Visits

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Through the magic of the Internet, Husband and I visit our Grands who live across the country, close to the Rocky Mountains.  We sit in front of our computer, click a Face Time icon and wait to see Dan, age 2 ½, and Neil, 8 months.

“Hey, Dan.  Look who’s on the computer!” says Son, as he comes into focus on our computer screen.

I hear Dan running before he comes into view.  Big smile, open mouth.  I could count his teeth if he were still for just a few seconds.  “Hi Gran! Hi Pop!”  My heart melts just hearing him call my name.  Son prompts him to tell us about a recent trip to the zoo and what he ate for supper.   Then Neil appears beside Dan.   A happy, smiling baby.   Daughter-in-law turns him around so we can see his curly hair on the back of his head, and then he crawls across the carpet toward a red ball.

Sometimes Dan shows us tricks like turning a somersault or throwing his basketball through his four-foot goal. And sometimes he has a new matchbox car to show, but mostly he plays.  Neil usually sits in one of his parents’ lap.  Daughter-in-law and Son talk with Husband and me, but we rarely see them.  They keep the camera focused on our Grands.  I’m happy – happy to watch.

Recently, one Sunday night one of our Grands, Elaine who lives just across town visited Husband and me, and I had the great idea that she and Dan, who are the same age, would like to see each other through Face Time.  All went well in the beginning.  Elaine sat in my lap quietly; she’s not accustomed to seeing her cousins and uncle and aunt on a computer screen.  Dan said, “Hi Elaine.”  She sucked her thumb.  Dan held a green matchbox car so that it filled the computer screen.  Elaine jumped down from my lap, ran to the playroom, and brought back a black car to show Dan.

Back and forth, Dan and Elaine showed each other toys.  A blue car.  A yellow school bus.  A tennis ball.  A big colorful striped ball.  My heart was full.  These two cousins were hundreds of miles apart and having fun together.  Elaine showed Dan a red truck and he collapsed into a two-year-old melt down.  His happy face turned into tears and amid his sobbing I heard, “Go. Pop’s. Gran’s.”

I wanted to stretch my arms through the paths of the Internet, wrap my arms around Dan, wipe his tears, and give him the red truck.  Son hugged Dan, but there was no consoling.  Elaine dropped the truck. Thankfully, Husband caught it before it hit the computer.  We said our good-byes quickly and signed off.  “Dan come to Pop’s and Gran’s?” Elaine asked.

How can toddlers understand that they can see and talk to someone, but can’t visit right that minute?   Dan wouldn’t come to visit that night, but another time.  And sometime we’ll go see Dan and Neil and their parents.  Until then, we see each other on computers.

You have to be a grandparent to appreciate that a highlight of my week is to stare at our computer screen and watch Dan line up matchbox cars on a windowsill and see Neil crawl across the floor.

Becoming the Big Sister




At the lofty age of 4 ½, Ruth has many nights of experience over her little sister Elaine who is only 2 ½.  Ruth had spent the night with Husband and me about every third week for the past two years.  And even though Elaine has stayed with us several nights, last week was the first time these two sisters have stayed together.  Just the two of them, without their two older siblings who usually lead the way for these two little sisters.


While we ate supper, Ruth said, “Elaine, after we eat, we’ll go in Pop and Gran’s bedroom and dance.  Okay?”  Roll and skip and hop and twirl to the melodies of Old McDonald had a Farm and The Itsy Bitsy Spider.


When I said it was almost time to put on pajamas, Ruth took charge.  “Elaine, stop!” she said.  “We’re going to put on our pajamas and brush our teeth and then Gran will read us some books.”  When Ruth stays alone, she plants herself in either Husband’s or my lap and stretches out reading time.  But not this night.  “Elaine, let’s sit on the floor together,” Ruth said.  I sat in a wingback chair, read, and showed the girls the pictures.  After the first book, Ruth wiggled beside me in my chair and whispered, “Elaine might want to sit in your lap.”  With both girls close, I read another book and Ruth shared words of wisdom.


“Elaine, do you know what we eat for breakfast at Pop’s and Gran’s?”  Ruth asked.  Elaine shook her head.  It’s hard for her to talk with her thumb in her mouth.  Ruth said, “Oatmeal Squares.  Do you know what Gran puts on them?”  Elaine didn’t.  “Sprinkles.  Do you know why we get sprinkles?”  I think Elaine had stopped listening.  “When you stay in your bed and don’t get up, you get sprinkles.”


I didn’t know that breakfast sprinkles were perceived as a reward for staying in bed.  And if they are, then I’ve given the reward many times when it wasn’t warranted.  “Now, Elaine, Pop will take us to bed.  You stay in your bed (a crib) and I’ll stay in mine (a king size bed.)  We’ll be right in the same room,” Ruth said.


Ruth told me, “Gran, I can get up and get Elaine a drink if she needs one.  You and Pop don’t have to come upstairs.”   I wish all had gone according to her plan.  Ruth stayed in her bed, except when she got up twice to hand Elaine a glass of water.  But, Husband and I each ‘checked on’ Elaine several times before she finally fell sleep.  The next morning Ruth said, “Gran, I think me and Elaine both need sprinkles.  She tried really hard to stay in her bed.”  What’s cereal without sprinkles?


Lest you think a four-year-old is capable of bestowing sisterly love and guidance throughout an entire evening and morning, you should know that there were some glitches.  When big sister pushed a drawer shut on little sister’s fingers.  When big sister wanted the toy that little sister held in her hands.   When little sister wanted to put on her socks without big sister’s help.


This overnight visit reminded me that children need opportunities to be in charge.  A chance to be the leader and the one who knows what to do.  And don’t we all?











‘Tis the Season for Leaves Part 2





Tis’ the Season for Leaves

Part Two

            Tis’ the season for leaves.  Beautiful yellow and red and orange leaves that light up Tennessee mountains.   Leaves that fall to the ground.  Leaves that shout, “Play!”  Last week in this space, I whined about raking and blowing of leaves off our driveway and yard.  But I’m really not a Grinch.  And I really love living in the woods.

I’ve played in leaves all my life.  The house where I grew up had a yard with a couple of maples and a huge oak tree.  My best friend and I created ground level playhouses using leaves for walls.  We’d skipped Saturday morning cartoons to set up our yard house, and we carried our lunch to our outside kitchen.  Late afternoon, we raked our playhouse into a big pile, jumped in the middle, and hid.  And we threw leaves high in the air, letting them float over and around and on us.

When I was a college student (right here at TTU), I begged my parents to not rake all the leaves so I could do them when I was home for Thanksgiving.  Dad and I raked the huge brown leaves into a pile that I walked through and jumped in.  Is anyone ever too old to settle into a bed of fall leaves?  And I threw leaves in the air.  I’m sure Dad wanted to get the job done, but he indulged my play before we threw every leaf on the garden plot for mulch.  Mom served vegetable soup and cornbread for supper.  Those days made happy memories.  And when my children were young, they built leaf houses and forts.  They threw and stomped leaves, and they hid under mountains of leaves.

A few weeks ago when the leaves had just begun to fall, my Grands were playing in our backyard.  They kicked rubber balls down the hill and threw them back up to see whose ball went higher on the hill before it rolled down.  We gathered fall treasures.  Hickory nuts, crimson dogwood leaves, and acorns.  “I’ll be right back,” David, age 8, said.  He ran into the garage and came out carrying a leaf rake.  “Get me one!”  his six-year-old sister yelled.

David and Lou worked.  They started at the top of the hill and raked halfway down.  “What a great job you’re doing!”  I said and wondered that if I’d suggested that they rake leaves, would it have been fun?  The pile grew larger.  Big enough that I couldn’t let it stay on the grass, and my Grands had to go home soon.  They could help me carry the leaf pile off the yard, I thought.  “That’s enough.  I think you need to stop,” I said.

“You’re right, Gran, that’s enough!”  Lou threw down her rake and jumped right in the middle of the leaf pile.  “Can you see me?”  she asked.  Those leaves scattered when she jumped a foot off the ground.  And they scattered more when my Grands ran through the pile and rolled down the hill and had a leaf fight.

Fall leaves – Mother Nature’s toys.





Tis’ the Season for Leaves

fall-leaves Tis’ the season for leaves.  Those beautiful yellow and red and orange leaves that light up Tennessee mountains.  Those beautiful leaves that fall to the ground.   Those leaves that aren’t so beautiful when they cover my yard and deck and driveway.  Especially when it rains.

I love living in the woods.  I love to watch tiny buds burst into leaves in the springtime, and I love the comfort of a shade tree.  And nothing in nature is prettier than the colors of autumn.  But when leaves begin to fall from trees, they spell work.

Almost thirty years ago, Husband and I built a house in the woods.  Through the years, we’ve lost trees to disease and storms, but it seems that each year our trees produce more and bigger foliage than the year before.  We’ve used every method to remove leaves.  Raked, mowed, and blown.  When our children lived at home, we ‘did leaves’ as a family undertaking, and now we usually, and happily, hire out the job.  Some people say to let all the leaves fall and then get rid of them one time.  Well, if we tried that, we’d be up to our eyeballs in leaves.  At least, up to our knees.   Someone will have to blow or rake the leaves in our yard at least three times between now and December.

Early in our marriage Husband assumed the responsibility of yard care, but because I’m the one who loves living in the woods (he’d be happy in a walk-up apartment) and we need to see where to drive, I try to keep the driveway leaf free.  I haul out my electric leaf blower, a 100-foot extension cord, and a rake.  I spend as much time untangling that long extension cord and moving it from an outlet on the front porch to a basement outlet as I do blowing leaves.  And I use a rake where I can’t reach with the blower.  Two hours later, I can see pea gravel and concrete once again.

The next day, leaves litter the driveway.  By the second day, especially if there’s been breeze, even a mild southerly breeze, I can’t walk the length of our driveway and not step on leaves.  Time to haul out the leaf blower.

Last week, my oldest Grand, age 8, made my heart quicken.  “Gran, can I blow the leaves?” he asked.  Can he?  How fast?  As quickly as I could get him to my house.  He carried the leaf blower, and I lugged the extension cord.  I gave directions on how to hold the leaf blower and which way to blow – straight into the wooded yard area designated for leaves.  We pulled on gloves; he covered his ears with hearing protectors.  I began taking wet leaves that were stuck under shrubs, and he stood holding the silent leaf blower in hand.  “One more thing, Gran,” Samuel said.  “Are you going to pay me?”

My Grand says he’s saving money to buy a Lego set.  He’ll have enough money soon.  There’s plenty of work for this boy.



Acting Their Age

images My two sweet little Grands who were born during the summer of 2011 are two years old and they are typical toddlers.  They are learning to be independent and they mimic and they ask questions.

Early one morning when everyone except Dan and I was sleeping, he lined up three toy trucks, one behind the other.  He stacked wooden disks, the size of checkers, side-by-side in the bed of the dump truck.  When he pushed the truck across the floor, the disks rolled off.  I gathered the disks in my hand and said, “Look, Dan, lay these flat, on top of each other and they won’t roll.”  My Grand looked at me sternly, “No, Gen*,” he said.  Two more times he stacked the disks side and side and both times they rolled off the truck.  The fourth time, Dan pushed the truck with one hand and held the disks in the truck bed with his other hand.  “See, Gen,” he said.  “I do it!”  He did it his way.

Elaine sat quietly in her mother’s lap as her older brother and sisters, her parents, and I crowded around a laptop computer watching a slideshow of pictures from a recent family vacation.  She sucked her thumb on one hand and twirled her hair with the other hand.  Her eyes blinked often and slowly.  Then a picture of her sister, with eyes like saucers and arms and legs stretched wide as if she were flying, appeared on the screen.  “What on earth?”  Elaine yelled.  (The picture was snapped after Elaine’s father threw her six-year-old sister high in the air and just before her sister splashed into a swimming pool.)  What on earth?  Who says that?

“Agen,” Dan said.  Pat-a-cake again and again.  His chubby little hands pound the imaginary cake, and if he’d really held a cake, he’d flung it onto the ceiling, not thrown it in a pan.  He grabbed my finger.  “Band-aid?” he asked.  I assured him my finger was okay; the band-aid covered a small cut.  “Why” he asked.  And my answer led to another why and another and another.

“Baby Brumblebee.  Sing, Gen,” Elaine said.  I clasped my hands together and sang, “I’m bringing home a baby bumblebee.  Won’t my mother be so proud or me?”  Elaine put her hand on my mouth and said, “Stop, Gen!”  She pulled my hands apart.  “Brumblebee gone?” she asked.  I reminded her that it was a pretend bumblebee – not real.  “It sting you?”  she asked.  No, I assured her.  “Okay, sing, Gen!”  I clasped my hands and she clasped hers.  “Ouch, it sting me!”  Elaine shouted and threw her arms wide apart.  “Smash it, Gen!”  “I’m smashing up a baby bumblebee,” I sang.  Elaine sang along, slapping her hands together.  At the end of the song, Elaine asked, “Brumblebee, gone?”  Yes, until next time.

Oh, what fun to play with my two-year-old Grands!  Until he runs and she climbs.  Until they say, “NO!” when it’s time to wash their hands.  Until they have more questions than I have answers.  They are two years old and they’re acting their age.

*Gen—toddler talk for Gran.

Grand Memory

400-04286209Our home is quiet this week.  Much too quiet after last week’s visit from our two Grands who live an airplane ride away.  Neil, 3 ½ months old, and his mother and his older brother visited so that Neil could meet his Tennessee relatives.  And his relatives – great-grandmother, cousins, aunts, uncles- gathered to welcome him.

Three and a half months old.  Is there an age that a baby is sweeter or more cooperative? Neil smiled and giggled and let us pass him from one set of arms to another.  When he lay on the floor on a quilt, he stayed put and watched.  He sat happily in a bouncy seat while we ate meals.  Of course, his mother made sure he stayed happy because he wore a clean, dry diaper and slept when he was tired and ate when he was hungry.

I had to sneak him away a few times to have some just Neil and me moments.  When Neil’s mother said, “He really needs a bath,” I quickly volunteered.  I hauled out my giant commercial size stainless steel bowl, lined it with a bath towel, and tested the water temperature until it was perfect.  Exactly baby-bath warm.

Neil, wearing only a diaper, lay wrapped in his blanket on my kitchen counter.  I placed my arms along his sides, and, with my face just inches from his, I sang a silly made-up song to the tune of ‘The Farmer in the Dell.’  “We’re going to take a bath…” He smiled and kicked.  As I eased his naked bottom and legs into the water, his arms flung outward.  I held his upper body securely, under his back, and smiled.  “Oh, nice warm water,” I said.  He relaxed, body limp.

As I gently rubbed his body with a soapy washcloth, I remembered the days when I bathed my own babies.  Did I cherish those minutes or was bathing my babies a chore?  Neil’s eyes followed my hand as I poured handfuls of water over his tummy, his legs, his arms.  His fussy cry let me know he didn’t like water on his head.  And I didn’t like water splashed on my face when he kicked his feet.  “Bath time is over,” I said.

I wrapped Neil in the softest towel we own, carried him into my bedroom, laid him on my bed, and quickly diapered him.  I sang,  “La, la, la, la, la….” He giggled, waved his arms and kicked and cooed – ohs and ahs – as only a baby can.  And then he blew a bubble and we both laughed.  I took pictures – just in case I ever forget that sweet, happy time.

As I gently massaged his body with lotion, Neil lay completely still, relaxed.  As I struggled to pull his shirt over his head and get his arms through the shirtsleeves, he fussed.  Finally dressed, he lay on his back in the middle of my bed.  I walked from side to side of the bed straightening the bed spread, and he arched his back and turned onto his side to see me.  When I sat beside him and told him how much I love him, he grinned, kicked his legs, and waved his arms.  A perfect response.

The memories, both mental and digital, must tie me over until next time.  I’m booking an airplane ride to be sure a visit is in the near future.



At the Beach

DSC00876I hold her hand tightly.  She tiptoes along the dry sand and then onto the wet, just washed sand.  Together, my two-year-old Grand and I stand as the ocean water laps our toes.  Elaine wiggles her hand out of my grasp and marches toward the breaking waves.  She stops when the white water covers her ankles.  “Let me hold you hand,” I say.  “We’ll jump the waves.”  I covered her hand with mine.  She looks up at me, jerks her hand away, and shouts,  “No, Gran!”  The next wave is bigger and stronger.  She flings her arms out to maintain balance.  My hand on her shoulder gives support.  The water retreats.  She turns and runs to her mother who is standing on dry sand.  Mother lifts Elaine into her arms and Elaine burrows her head in Mother’s shoulder.  “Are you okay?”  Mother asks.  Elaine sniffs and says, “The water fall me.”

I carry my young Grand perched on my hip and walk along the seashore.  Just where the water surges onto the sand.  “Ah, Elaine, the water tickles my toes,” I tell her.  She lays her head on my shoulder.  “Tickle, tickle, tickle,” I chant,  “Oh, my toes are wet.”  She jerks her head up and leans her body to see my toes.  “Tickle, tickle, tickle,” I say.  She wiggles and slides down my leg.  Her toes touch the water.  She stands still; her body rigid as she watches the salt water cover our feet.  She grabs for my hand and clutches my finger.  “Tickle, tickle, tickle.  Our toes are wet,” I say.  Together, we stand and let the water lap our toes.  I pat my foot and the water splashes onto her knees.  She stomps.  “The water tickles your knees,” I say.  She stomps, again and again.

Elaine and I hold hands and walk on the dry beach.  “Shell, Gran!” she shouts.  She picks up a tiny broken white shell and runs to me.  “Hold it!”  I open my hand and she lays her treasure onto my palm.  “Hold it tight!”  She runs a few yards, stops, and gathers the shell fragments around her feet.  Her small hands are full.  “More shells,” she says as she unfolds her fingers and drops her shells into my hands.  It was a short walk in distance – maybe twenty feet.  A long discovery walk.  Shells of all colors.  White, brown, black and all sizes, but no whole and unbroken seashells. Yet each a treasure in Elaine’s tight fists.

I rest, reclined under a beach umbrella, and Elaine sits in my lap.  We watch her brother and sisters and parents and Pop swim and play in the ocean.  Pop and Elaine’s older sister are jumping waves; Pop lifts Elaine’s sister high as each roaring wave breaks under her feet.  “What they doing, Gran?”  Elaine asks.  “Jumping waves.  Can you hear your sister laughing?”  I say.  Elaine nods and stares at her sister and Pop.  “Gran?”  she says.  “I wanna’ jump.”

I stand beside Pop and lift Elaine as he lifts her sister.  The white water splashes her feet.  “Higher!  Gran!  Jump higher!”  Elaine shouts.  She grips my hands and stands knee deep in the water, waiting for the next wave.