Today will be magic!
Three granddaughters are belted into the recesses of their SUV, holding their Toyland lottery triumph prizes from Funland. Grandpa and I wave goodbye in the driveway and walk to the front door to see a yogurt trail cascading down the glass pane.
I feel last night’s weight of 5-year-old Annie pressing onto my chest, her head tucked under my chin as I read Mo Willem’s “Knuffle Bunny” and “Knuffle Bunny Too.”
The bike I borrowed wasn’t the right size for Annie, but I had coaxed her, “You can do it. Put the pedal up as high as you can. Now place your foot on the highest pedal and push off.” Soon she is sailing down the street as big sister Catherine whizzes by, claiming her right as the firstborn. Grandma pedals to keep up.
Later in the bedroom, Catherine is admiring the collection of clip-on earrings, the costume jewelry I rescued from my mother-in law’s closet. Sixty pairs that pinched the ears of several generations of relatives she will never know.
For hours, she comes in and out of the bedroom wearing red rhinestones, mother-of-pearl, settles on tortoiseshell hoops that dangle. I need a pair that doesn’t hurt my ears, she explains.
I remember that I let my own firstborn, Lena, get pierced ears when she was 5. One ear was perfectly punched before she knew about the pain to follow, then she wailed down the second story of the shopping mall while onlookers wondered at possible abuse.
An eternity – two weeks – passed before I convinced her to get the other ear pierced, only to have the earring fall out and the hole begin to close up, a victory for my mother-in-law, whose face said, “Who lets a 5-year-old get pierced ears?”
On the morning of their departure, I wake to see my son prone on the living room couch, forced out by the baby who stole his pillow and momma’s heart. I hope he got enough sleep to make the 10-hour drive home to North Carolina.
His hug is so strong and firm that I hold onto him for a few seconds. He tells me there is time for one more bike ride in this Sunday morning sun, and I leave him standing with 2-year-old Lily’s face grinning with yogurt chin.
Last night, my son told me that he asked his girls what they think they will remember from Grandma’s visit. He’s disappointed that they didn’t have an answer.
As I click the buckle of my helmet, I want to tell him it will be a lifetime before his children can answer. That it took me beyond 50 years to know what lessons I received from my own parents. Count the victories, not their mistakes. All you need to do is love them. Try not to yell.
When I pull the floral sheets off the bed, I unearth Annie’s downy bear. Holding the corners of the same pink floral sheets that covered the twin mahogany beds in another grandmother’s house in Cincinnati, I see my own daughter holding a white polar bear, a Christmas gift from her grandmother.
I discover what else Annie left behind – a Barbie purse, Elsa pajamas and a pink T-shirt which I hold up to the light and read, “Today will be magic.” My heart is bursting with gratitude as I wonder when I will see them again. She’ll be able to reach the pedals.