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Memories Sealed in My Heart

Grandparents Day, celebrated September 10, should stretch to a week, maybe a month. We grandparents have so many stories and pictures. Recently, an acquaintance showed me a picture of her granddaughter and began telling about things they do together. She took a breath and I had to laugh at what my close friend said: “Hold up. You know Susan has eight Grands. We might be here a while.”

            Some of my best times with Grands are one-on-one and I don’t always take pictures. While visiting Son’s family that lives an airplane ride away, Daughter-in-law suggested that her two boys go with her to take their boxer to the vet. Neil said, “No. I’m staying home. Just me and Gran and we’ll play!” He grabbed my hand.

Neil is four years old. Middle child with an older brother, younger sister. Brother went with his mother. Sister took a nap.

“Neil, what’ll we play?” I asked.

“Cars and the guessing game,” my Grand said. “Cars, first!” Neil and Brother have a huge basket full of Matchbox cars and he dumped them at my feet.

“Choose five, Gran!” Neil said. He chose 25, or maybe 40. Together we propped a plastic, narrow car track on a big pillow to make a steep decline from the pillow to the floor. We noted which car went farthest. Which one fell off the track every time – although it took many tries to determine that it fell every time.

Neil and I grouped cars by color, by shape, by design.  We counted seconds to determine which car went down the track fastest. How long can anyone push little cars down a track and think it’s fun? After almost an hour, Neil said it was time play the guessing game, where players take turns acting like an animal and the other guesses what it is.

Neil slithered like a snake and he immediately guessed elephant when I held my arms in front of my face. Then Neil got on all fours and jumped high. “A rabbit,” I said. He nodded.

“Now watch this,” Neil said and he did the exact same thing. I guessed rabbit; he shook his head. Kangaroo? No. Frog? No. “It’s a bunny!” my Grand said. “Guess this!”

Again Neil jumped high from all fours. It wasn’t a rabbit or bunny or anything I guessed. I gave up. “A bunny rabbit!” Neil said. I never knew a rabbit, bunny, and bunny rabbit were different, until Neil explained, “They are in the guessing game.”

A few days later, while Neil’s family visited Husband and me, I sat alone in a rocking chair on our front porch after supper. Enjoying a few moments of quiet and calm. Neil came to the porch and said, “Gran, I just wanna’ sit with you.” And he climbed beside me and sat quietly. I wrapped my arms around my Grand.

I don’t have pictures of Neil as a bunny rabbit or snuggled beside me. Those memories are the kind we grandparents seal in our hearts.

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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.