57: Grandma Power

57: Grandma Power

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

Grandma Power

Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete.

~Marcy DeMaree

I stood on tiptoe to reach the water flowing from the kitchen faucet. “Good job, Laurie. You are being so careful with the plates.” My grandmother’s approval felt as warm as the water.

She stood next to me in her white cotton blouse and flowered skirt, her shoulder pressed against mine. The stool I stood on made us the same height.

I was happy to be living with her. My parents were splitting up and she provided the medicine I needed: small tasks done together, making me feel useful. We picked flowers, emptied wastepaper baskets, and folded towels.

I had always wanted to be like her: cheerful, capable, and ready to share the apple pies she baked from scratch and the flowers she grew in her perennial garden.

After the dishes were done, I sat at her kitchen table with my math homework as she stood at the stove cooking.

“Grandmummy?”

“Yes, Laurie. What’s on your mind?”

“Do you think Mom and Dad will get back together?”

“I don’t know, sweetheart. But whatever happens, I want you to know that you’re going to be all right. Your parents love you and you’ll always have me.”

I felt comforted. She had made me no promises, but somehow her honesty gave me courage. And she was there for me. I knew that was rock-solid truth.

The next day at school I was distracted, missing important explanations in math class that would make my homework impossible to do that night. Miss Dickerson, my fifth grade teacher, called me to her desk during free reading time. “Laurie, I heard your family is having some troubles and I want you to know I am praying for you. You’re going to be all right.”

I smiled and looked her straight in the eye and knew she meant it. Two people. I have two people on my side, I thought.

When I reached my grandmother’s house that afternoon, she was waiting for me by the kitchen door.

“Come on in, sweetie. I made you some cinnamon toast.”

I followed her into the warm room, putting down my heavy book bag and sighing with relief.

“I have some good news,” she said, placing the plate of toast and cup of milk in front of me. “I went to see your mother today and she’s gaining strength. I think she’ll be up for a visit in a few days.”

I closed my eyes and pictured my mom the last time I saw her, under the covers in her bed, pale, with her eyes closed. She hadn’t heard me when I called her name. I sat for a long time on the front steps of our house. That’s where Grandmummy found me when she came to check on us. I didn’t understand what depression was at my young age, but I understood that my mom couldn’t take care of me.

It wasn’t until years later, when I had reached adulthood, that my grandmother confided to me that her own mother had sunk into a depression when she was young.

The weeks went by. I enjoyed the routine at Cackleberry Farm, as my grandmother’s house was called. My weekly visits to my mom went okay. She could look at me now, and smile and call me by name with love in her voice. But she didn’t get out of bed.

My dad came to see me at my grandmother’s house. His beard and long hippie hair looked the same, but his eyes were sad.

“It’s not fair,” I told him reproachfully. “I need two parents, so I can go to the other one if one isn’t helping me.”

His silence hurt. But how was I to know that he was sparing me the pain of the details of a marriage falling apart?

My grandmother hugged him at the door — more evidence of her peace-loving nature as she continued to love her son-in-law.

After a month of her tender care, Grandmummy broke the news to me as she sat on the edge of my bed after nighttime prayers. “Your mom is ready for you to come home. I plan to drive you over after school tomorrow.”

I cried out and hugged her tightly.

“I am always here, sweet Laurie. You must always feel free to come to see me.”

My homecoming was a mixed experience because my mother struggled for a long time to find her emotional equilibrium. I took care of myself at times and learned resilience.

True to her word, my grandmother remained my best source of constant love. When I was old enough to ride my bike the six miles to her house, she welcomed my spontaneous appearances. She prayed for me. She hosted me overnight. And when she moved away she wrote me lengthy, newsy letters.

She also loved me, applauding my college graduation, offering her joyful presence at my wedding and expressing her excitement at the birth of each of my children.

I received the blessing of her long life, her cheerful heart, and her love until her passing at the age of 101. And I still carry her lessons with me as I pass them on to my own granddaughter.

~Laure Covert

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