18: Gift from Another Grandmother

18: Gift from Another Grandmother

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grand and Great

Gift from Another Grandmother

The measure of love is not how much that child loves me but rather how much I dare to love that child.

~Lois Wyse

Our son, Bob, placed a little stranger down in the middle of our living room. “Mom, Dad, this is my Bridget.” Bridget, two and a half, stood there and just smiled, her hazel-brown eyes dancing from one of us to the other. She had been born in the northernmost part of Canada where the aurora borealis can be seen from her yard. This was her first trip to Washington State, and she took my breath away.

We hugged and laughed and greeted one another, then I asked if Bridget would like to help me in the yard. We gathered all the tools, and as I kneeled in the pansy beds beneath our birch trees, Bridget wiggled her plump body close. “Grandma, are you allowed to get dirty?”

“You bet. And so are you.”

The next morning we threw our sleeping bags and groceries into the trucks and headed for the ocean. Bridget sat straight and tall between her grandfather and me. As we started off down the driveway, she smiled up at me and carefully took my arm, cradling it between both of her chubby hands, and just hung on for two hundred miles.

Bridget had learned the word, “Grandma,” from our daughter-in-law’s mother, who lived near their homestead. So we didn’t need time to get acquainted. “Run, Grandma, run,” Bridget called as we held hands, lifted our faces to the wind and ran toward the ocean waves. She giggled and splashed as the sun and surf painted rainbows across our toes at the water’s edge.

That night, Bridget never left my side as we toasted marshmallows, our cheeks and fingers melding together with traces of white, sticky sweetness. At bedtime, she rolled out her bag and put it on the canvas floor beside my old army surplus cot in our nine- by nine-foot tent. Grandpa was already snoring and the other grandchildren chose to sleep under the stars with Uncle Brian. As Bridget and I talked about taking our pails to the beach in the morning, she lifted my hand to her lips, “Grandma ‘Rean says you’re nice.” And we drifted off to dreams as the auspicious drone of waves and shifting sand washed across our world.

In the middle of the night, a noise awakened me. And in the faint, first light of morning through the tent screen flap, I saw Bridget sit up in her bag and lean onto my cot. She reached across my stomach and hugged me, then brushed her lips across my cheek. Very carefully she patted my arm. Then, she scooted back inside the Mickey Mouse bag, closing her dark lashes, and snuggling her ponytail into the pillow.

I caught my breath, and lay very still, allowing warm tears to wash the memory of Bridget’s visit deep into my bones. I held a treasure, my grandchild’s ready, open heart, the gift of Grandma Mearean, up north nearly two thousand miles away.

~Doris Hays Northstrom
Chicken Soup for the Grandparent’s Soul

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