After the hubbub of the wedding and the excitement of being a bridesmaid, after playing with cousins and chatting with numerous aunts and uncles, after her dad and brothers departed for home and school, our granddaughter Maggie and her mom Pearl stayed on for another week.
It had been close to two years since I’d even seen this girl, and the change from nine to eleven years is a big one. I’m so thankful it worked out for her to be around all those lazy summery days, so we could enjoy just living our lives together. It didn’t seem necessary to plan interesting outings — Maggie had plenty of ideas in her head and resources at hand, for creative and homey things.
This hedgehog that had been given to her grandpa had not been named, so Maggie created a contest to choose a name for him. She gathered suggestions from all the family into a teapot and after a few days she had Grandpa choose his favorite. He picked Charles, but Maggie calls him Charlie. He looked on during many of our fun times.
The first thing the two of us did in the relative quietness was to start reading The Doll’s House by Rumer Godden. I read aloud to her as we snuggled on the couch or on her bed in my sewing/prayer room. It seemed to be the perfect book for our limited time — just long enough, and with a dramatic plot. The doll characters were very well drawn and complex – not fluffy.
We went to the craft store where Maggie bought a big pad of paper to go with ribbons and bows I had on hand, and she created some pretty cards for her grandpa and me.
I mostly forgot about my chores that week. I could do that because Pearl was always loading and unloading the dishwasher and clothes washer. She climbed a ladder to prune the unruly and invasive wisteria, and one morning she and Maggie washed both of our very dirty cars till they were shining.
Maggie did a lot of flipping, diving and acrobatics in the pool. She had the idea of baking some brownies, but “only if your recipe is the same as my mom’s…?” Our family has made “Anne’s Brownies” for so many decades, I thought it likely that Pearl was still using the same, and when I handed Maggie the card she said it was the Right One. (Anne, when you read this, you will know who you are.)
She added the peppermint extract and a buttercream icing she makes kind of free-form, and Voilà! we were blessed with mint brownies that she decorated with findings from the garden. Mr. Glad thought he didn’t like something chocolate mint, but he gave them a try and said they were yummy like Thin Mints, so he is still finishing the leftovers.
At the time of The Brownies, we were getting down to the last day or two of our extended reunion, and Maggie and I both were feeling some anticipatory pain of separation. We started watching more episodes of “Bleak House” with Grandpa — even though Maggie hadn’t been around to see the beginning of the series — and playing marathons of Bananagrams, which we both love.
Maggie makes us word-lovers proud with her skill at discovering words among the tiles. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, words may be formed going up as well as down, and from right to left as well as in the usual direction. This was one of Maggie’s crossword arrangements, and I think it was for a game that she ended up winning.
I have a dream of someday offering my services to families as a spelling tutor for young readers. I would go to their houses with nothing but my bag of Bananagram tiles and a dictionary, and just play this game side-by-side with the kids. It’s excellent for a broad range of ages, because each player is doing her own thing, competing against herself, and winning a game has nothing to do with how many words you’ve formed by the end.
I won’t be playing with Maggie anytime soon, though, and we will go back to writing e-mails or talking on the phone about our gardens and books and cooking projects, and about her busy 6th-grade life. I love being a grandma!