Grandma’s Cloud Game

Grandma’s Cloud Game

From Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul

Grandma’s Cloud Game

I worked hard picking that bouquet of dandelions from the field in back of Grandma’s house. When I presented my gift to Grandma she smiled and hugged me.

“Oh, child,” she’d said, “you warm the cockles of my heart.”

“You have cockles in your heart, Grandma?”

She laughed. The best part of Grandma was her laugh. It wasn’t exactly the sound so much as the way it filled her whole face, and the way her belly made her white apron wiggle.

Grandma placed the dandelions in a glass jar filled with water. They stayed on her kitchen windowsill until every last one of them was as brown as the wood it was sitting on.

Grandma smelled like vanilla and coffee. I remember the first time we made cookies from scratch. I thought one of the cups of stuff she put into the bowl was “scratch.” She explained, “There are two kinds of cookies; store bought and scratch.”

She had a secret recipe and it was magical because it didn’t matter if we put raisins or nuts or even chocolate chips in the batter, the cookies always tasted like heaven. Grandma gave me her secret scratch recipe and I keep it in my wooden treasure box under my bed.

I also have a four-leaf clover in my box. Grandma taped it to a piece of cardboard for me. We spent two hours crawling around on our hands and knees in her backyard looking for that four-leaf clover. We held hands and danced in a circle when I finally found one.

I loved spending the night with Grandma. She taught me how to play Rummy. I always added up the points because she said I was such a good counter.

The smell of coffee was usually what woke me up in the morning. Breakfast always tasted great. Breakfast started with a big kiss on my forehead followed by orange juice. Sometimes we had eggs, but Grandma knew pancakes were my favorite. She always made more pancakes than we could eat. We crumbled the leftovers and scattered them in the backyard for the birds. I think the birds came from miles around to visit her backyard when I spent the night.

Grandma had what she called a “bottomless” candy dish. We could eat candy in the afternoon and after dinner in the evening. The next morning the candy dish was full again. It always held my favorite kind—white buttery mints. Grandma taught me to hold them on my tongue and feel them magically melt. We held contests to see who could keep their mint on their tongue the longest. Most of the time Grandma won that game.

Grandma’s porch swing was my favorite place in the whole world. She sat on one side. I sat beside her and leaned against her, my feet and legs taking up the rest of the swing. I could smell Grandma’s cookies in her cotton apron and coffee on her breath as she hugged her arms around me. We found pictures in the clouds as Grandma gave the swing a nudge once in a while with her foot.

Mostly, we talked. We talked about the neighbor’s good corn crop. We talked about Dad’s job and Mom’s charity work. I told her my most important secrets and she crossed her heart she would never tell.

“Someday,” she told me, “when I’m living with the angels, you look up into those clouds and say hi to your old grandma, okay?”

“Okay, Grandma, I will.” I never worried about that day because I knew it would never come.

That was two months ago. Mom and Dad are in the house now packing Grandma’s belongings. I am sitting on Grandma’s porch swing, giving it an occasional push with my foot. The backyard is quiet. There is no laughter. I don’t know if I will ever laugh again.

Grandma is here. I feel her presence everywhere. Her kitchen still smells like vanilla and cinnamon and coffee. Maybe she’s just playing our game of hide-and-seek and she’s out of sight just beyond that old lilac bush she loved so much. I know better, but I sure wish that was true.

A white, fluffy cloud moves across the sky, directly overhead. I look up, remembering our “pictures in the cloud” game. The wind shuffles the cloud as I watch. I see Grandma! There she is, sure as the world! Her wings are spread wide and her white dress is falling in folds around her feet. She has a happy smile on her face!

“Hi, Grandma,” I call out, “I love you!” I knew she was there! She just doesn’t need this old house and all the stuff in it anymore. I see her gently wave. Smiling, I spread out on the porch swing to watch her as she floats across the sky.

Nadine Rogers

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