Little Marie

Little Marie

From Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul

Little Marie

Learning sleeps and snores in libraries, but wisdom is everywhere, wide awake, on tiptoe.

Josh Billings

I have a great brood of grown children, many who have scattered to the far corners. We call frequently, and I send letters stuffed with coupons for diapers, baby food and things. In return, Papa and I get sent silly pictures of our growing grandchildren or crayon drawings done in school.

We love the photos and the artwork, but miss being able to go to their soccer games, dance recitals and birthday parties.

Last summer we planned a large family reunion. Finally, we’d be able to gather all our wonderful grandchildren together.

Our youngest son arrived with our youngest granddaughter. Marie was three with chubby cheeks just begging to be pinched. My daughter-in-law, well-meaning as she was, pushed Marie toward us. “Give Grandma and Grandpa kisses hello,” she said.

Marie looked panicked and ducked behind her mom’s legs. She held on tightly despite our daughter-in-law’s urges to give us a hug and kiss. After a moment, I said that maybe Marie would like to kiss us another time, when she was more familiar with us. Our daughter-in-law, embarrassed, agreed that this might be better.

Throughout the reunion week Marie continued to hide whenever her mom asked her to give us a kiss. It pained me that my own granddaughter was afraid of me. Marie’s behavior reinforced the loneliness I felt from being so far away from my children and grandchildren.

The week came to an end, and our son prepared to leave for the airport. I knew my daughter-in-law would try one final time to get Marie to kiss us. I wanted our good-byes to be happy so I decided to try something different.

Before my daughter-in-law could insist upon a kiss, I told her that I needed to say a special good-bye to Marie.

I bent over and stared right into Marie’s eyes. We stared good and long until finally I had to stand up.

“What was that all about?” asked my son.

Still looking at Marie’s pensive little face I said, “Our eyeballs kissed.”

Slowly, Marie’s face began to transform. A grin split from ear to ear and she laughed. Then she ran to me and gave me a big hug. “Silly Gramma,” she whispered in my ear. “I’ll miss you.”

We’ll miss her, too.

Angela D’Valentine

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