Melodies play all through me.

I first titled this post “Melodies of life,” then “Melodies play in my mind…” but then I realized that music is more pervasive than that. My heart is full of melodies today. I mentioned last summer how Kate’s husband Tom would sing about everything; I asked him to make up a song for going to the Indian market and he was on it immediately and with a good will.

Now it’s Raj who sings all day, as long as he is in a happy mood. As the weeks went by and he got used to being in Grandma’s house, his mood gradually improved. But the change when his father returned from extended job training was dramatic. Until then, I think he was intuitively ill at ease, what with his nanny and father both “disappearing” and being replaced with Grandma. Once the family unit was restored he relaxed and became much less reactive. The songs increased.

His mother has created custom eclectic playlists of songs to play for the children, including many from her own childhood, when we had our favorites to sing on trips and before bed, and sometimes around the piano. From being fed throughout his whole short life by both the recorded music and the singing parents, Raj seems to have at his disposal a hundred songs to sing as medleys while he is playing.

Rug I just got for my newly refurbished closet.

He has been allowed to watch toddler videos in Spanish, which I found very educational for myself. When I achieved 500 days in a row in my Duolingo “study” a few weeks ago, I stopped; it just seemed like too much with all the world events demanding my attention. So I’ve enjoyed learning some new words and phrases by means of catchy songs (on “Super Simple” Spanish, YouTube) like “Ponte tus zapatos, zapatos, zapatos…”

At his morning naptime the parents sing to little Rigo, and I could hear them from downstairs, especially when Tom returned and took his turns in a man’s voice. “As I Went Down in the River to Pray,” was reintroduced to my own musical repertoire in this way. Other sweet reminders are “You Are My Sunshine” and “I Feel Like a Morning Star.” These melodies have comforted our souls, especially as we were repeatedly recovering from little boy noise — oh, my! The wild energy is exhausting; I’m glad the parents are young.

The family departed this morning for their new home and jobs in Panama. It’s the same daughter whom I visited in India two years ago, where I was able to be present when their firstborn arrived. I’m posting a few more stories and pictures before I move on to the next chapter of my life.

One discovery Raj led me to was manzanita berries as food. He found a funny unused plant stand in the greenhouse that he liked to sit on, and one day I found him in there chewing on something from a cup. He had collected manzanita berries from under the bush. I knew that they weren’t toxic, but I had never heard of any human eating them, so I looked them up and found an article about how you can use the unripe berries to make cider, the ripe berries in baked goods; you can even boil the seeds to make “a sophisticated drink.” No joke!

Well, if a toddler was enjoying them, and going back for more, I must sample one myself. I tried several, actually, and they do taste good, but there is not much flesh to taste! You immediately get to the seeds in the middle, which are basically three little stones filling the fruit. I hope I never am so poor that I need to survive on them.

Their last day here, when Tom and Kate were busy packing, Raj had been informed that the trip was imminent. Finally they would go to their new house in that mythical place called Panama, which he’d heard about for several months. He was as cheerful as could be, working from the essential understanding that they would be on an airplane and an adventure again. Finally he had a personal use for the phrase that he’s heard so often in the last year: “You ‘tay here, I be right back!” He told me this many times, as the move was the topic of the day.

And when in my bedroom he found a stuffed llama toy, he thought he’d like to get in my “big red bed” with it, and he snuggled there for at least a half an hour, leaving and returning with books to read, and more stuffed animals, chattering nonstop. He found a basket of Christmas cards and “read” all two dozen of them; I particularly liked this activity!

What will I do, now that it’s quiet here again? I managed to note on paper at least a couple dozen songs that I heard my grandson sing over the last few weeks, and I’ll try to create my own playlist of cheerful tunes to keep filling my house and heart. ❤

20 thoughts on “Melodies play all through me.

  1. You missed them even before they were gone. I know they will enjoy remembering all the sweet memories of the time spent with you. I enjoyed your sharing them.

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  2. My heart goes out to you. It is well over a year now that my eldest and his family packed up to live in Norway. I miss their presence daily with an ache and – while we communicate often – his daughters seem to be growing up so quickly now that we don’t see them daily anymore.

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  3. Your lovely home may be much quieter, but your heart and mind are filled with wonderful memories. May this little family be blessed living in their new home, country and with their new jobs.

    May your weekend be sweet dear Gretchen ~ Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady

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  4. What a sweet time you have had and bittersweet, too. I know how empty my house feels once the chatter has gone. I love that they all sing. My granddaughter was gathering honey mesquite seed pods to grind up to put in cookies. I love that your grand son found those berries and they are good to eat. That tickled me. I hope you have a lovely rest of the summer.

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  5. Gretchen, I had goosebumps reading this. That charming child! But all boy. The time with him, the distance he’ll be. And his parents. “You ‘tay here, I’ll be right back.” Oh, Lord! If that doesn’t squeeze a heart there’s no heart there.

    May God go with them, and with you who is staying!

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  6. I never read your posts without feeling envious of your family. With only one elderly aunt and three cousins left of mine, and a few fringier ones whose names I hardly know — well, it’s quite a different world. I’m not sure how I would have coped through the pandemic lock-downs had I been forced to spend all of those weeks completely alone. I often think of the elderly who have been isolated from their families in various sorts of institutions. As one woman said to me, “I’d rather die with my family around me than live without them.”

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    1. I know it’s right to want to protect our elders, but I know that many of them are ambivalent about the whole thing. And those who are isolated in their homes, not infirm enough to need any regular caregivers, maybe it’s even harder for some of them than for the ones who are in a home where they at least have other human contact. I know I am very lucky, even though my county is currently still under fairly strict regulations, with many individuals being even more careful than required.

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  7. The cherished days with grandchildren and the unexpected happiness they give us. They are extraordinary hours. The sweet experiences will stay with us and lovely stories to recall when they are older.

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  8. Oh those sweet little boys! Having their lives filled with singing is such a blessing.

    I’m glad Raj chose to pick and eat berries that were edible. Who knew they were? Like our Oregon Grapes ( which I’ve now learned are also called Mahonia).

    The rug you chose for your closet is absolutely beautiful.

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  9. Oh my, Gretchen, what a change it will be when they are gone! What a joy 🙂 I love his amazing golden curls. So glad they will be a little bit closer, in this hemisphere at least! So so glad you had them there for this good visit.

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  10. Gretchen, your grandchildren are lovely, what blessings God has bestowed upon your family! Looking at these pictures I can appreciate how difficulty it must be for you all to be apart. You know, I live two thousand miles away from my son, daughter-in-law and 20 month-old grandson, even though we’re in the same country. Other than FaceTime, I see them once or twice a year. So, in a way, such a reality has prepared me for the Covid lockdown, which in turn, has honed me for any ‘separation anxiety’. 🙂

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    1. When I was a child, we lived in the same state as both sets of grandparents, but had no expectation of seeing them more than twice a year. They were like me, I guess, busy enough with their lives that they didn’t really have time to be visiting frequently. I’ve learned to use FaceTime especially with the toddlers, so that they don’t forget me between visits.

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      1. I live in Calgary, Alberta, my son and his family live in Toronto, Ontario. As a matter of fact, my son left home for university in Ontario when he was only 18, so he’s been living away from us for over ten years now. I’m all used to this living apart lifestyle. 🙂

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      2. My daughter who just went to Panama also did that at 18, moving to Washington D.C. It has been very sweet, getting to spend 7, 3, then 4 weeks at a stretch with her and her family in the last two years, since her marriage.

        It seems that fewer and fewer families anymore enjoy the daily multi-generational interweaving of their lives that we probably never stop longing for to some degree, even though we get used to what we must, and learn to be thankful.

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  11. This post is so beautiful and I have to admit to being a tad envious, spending those precious moments with them, especially before they leave for so far away. How I admire them for making music such a part of the children’s lives That will be a gift they carry with them always. And I adored those moments when you and Raj snuggled, accompanied by his menagerie. I wish them well in their new life in Panama.

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  12. Oh my, what treasures of memories you’ve been making with your sweet grandchildren! I tell ya, children have to be one of, if not THE greatest gifts God has given us. The music, the tactile/sensory activities you’ve described here….all just so precious. I’m feeling a little heartbroken for you, knowing the sadness that comes on the heels of separation. I will keep you in my prayers in the coming days. May the sweet memories (and music) keep your mind and heart occupied for a good while to come!

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