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A Young Grand’s Love

“GRAN!” Jesse screams as he jumps down the backdoor steps at his house. I spread my arms wide and my 3 year-old Grand runs to me. He jumps. I lift him and he wraps his legs around my waist and buries his head in my shoulder.

“Oh, Jesse, I’m so happy to hug you!” I say. Just as happy as I was the day before when he ran to me.

These are the times grandparents must never forget. Must cherish. Almost every time Husband or I see Jesse he asks, “Go to Pop and Gran’s house today?” And he accepts our frequent answer, “Not today, Jesse. Would you like to come another day?” He smiles and screams, “Yes!” Another day can be tomorrow or a day next week.

Jesse has a routine when he visits Husband’s and my house by himself. He climbs the steps to the upstairs playroom. “Come on!” he says. He sets the 1970s Fisher Price plastic garage on a low table and dumps the matchbox cars out of a basket. He parks each car in a blue or red space and counts them. “1, 2, 3, 4,” he says. Then he counts again, “1, 7, 5, 2.”

“Let’s read books now,” my Grand says as he runs to the kids’ bookshelf.   He chooses the same books every time: Look Out for Mater and Tales from the Track, both about the red car Lightening McQueen and his car friends. He throws the books onto the couch. “Sit here, Gran!” he says and slaps beside the books. I sit and he crawls onto my lap.

My Grand laughs aloud when Mater, a brown tow truck travels down a curvy road backwards. And whispers “Shhh” when Big Bull, a monster-sized bulldozer, sleeps. Before I finish reading the second book, Husband comes into the playroom. “Poppy!” Jesse shouts and crawls out of my lap, holds the book, and runs to Husband. Poppy, Jesse’s love name for Husband. Seven other Grands call him Pop, but Jesse coined Poppy, and now it’s his turn to read aloud.

No matter the time of day or how long the visit, Jesse wants a snack. “I’m hungry,” he says. He carries a booster seat to a kitchen chair and fastens its safety belt around his waist. He peels a tangerine, and like most toddlers, stuffs his mouth full and then talks. “Cookies! Can I have cookies?” he says. His snacks are always the same: a tangerine, cookies, and water. Water in a blue plastic cup and a blue straw.

When it’s time for me to take my Grand home, he runs to Husband. “Bye, Poppy,” and holds his arms up to be lifted. If Husband simply hugs, Jesse reminds him to kiss-hug and wiggles to the floor after each kisses the other’s cheek.

Jesse’s greetings and kiss-hugs won’t last much longer. Soon he’ll do as his older siblings who casually say, “Hi, Gran” or wave half-heartedly. But I remember, they too, ran to me when they were toddlers.

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‘Tis the Season for Leaves Part 2

JumpingInLeaves

 

 

 

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.

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