Soft hands: a grandmother’s touch

Yesterday my son and I came home after a three-day visit at my parents’ house.

It’s always bittersweet when we leave. I’m happy to return to my husband, animals, and our home and routine. But we always have so much fun. It’s clear my son loves his grandparents, especially Grandma.

It’s probably at least in part because she willingly takes him outside 6 times in a day if he asks and traipses up and down the street pulling his sled because he only likes it on flat surfaces (once he likes something, he really, really likes it). Or it might be because she goes up and down the stairs with him umpteen times! Or because she’ll always get down on the floor and play with him at his level.

Either way, it’s clear he’s going to have years of fond memories, much like I do from growing up with a grandmother near by.

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My mom’s mom lived about an hour from us, and my dad’s mom died when I was quite young, so my memories are mostly with a lovely woman who lived in our small town. At some point, Mrs. Fletcher became my grandmother.

We often spent summer holidays with them, travelling across the province to see the sites here. More than once we went fishing up north at Cowan Lake. I remember a particularly rainy vacation at maybe Green Lake? We stayed in the cabin and played cards and pick up sticks.

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We regularly went over to the Fletchers’ house. My parents and they would play cards. I would play their piano, watch TV, play with empty Toffifee containers and those little ceramic animals. Those little things stuck with me so much that when I saw those little animals at a flea market the summer before Cub was born, I just had to buy them. Even though he’s still far too young to play with them.

Mrs. Fletcher made awesome chicken noodle soup with thick noodles. She always made me tea and had cookies for me to eat. And she had the softest, plump hands.

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She died of cancer just after I started my first year of university. We all felt so fortunate that she was able to see and attend my high school graduation since we knew she wouldn’t see other milestones. I don’t have many regrets in life, but I do have one around her: when she was sick, she asked if I could come over and help hand out candy to any trick or treaters who came. Afterward, she gave me $10, likely just to be kind and compensate me for my time. To this day, I feel guilty that I took it. No doubt as a grade 12 student, I dashed off to hang out with my friends. But I hope she knows that my friends or a volleyball tournament or really anything weren’t more important than her.

I’m not sure I believe in heaven, but it’s a nice thought to think she somehow sees me, Cub, and my mom. And even though there’s no blood connection, every time I hold my son’s hand and stroke it, I think of her, because he has the same, incredibly soft, plump hands. I like to think they are from her. She was family, after all.

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I could go on and on about the memories I have of her, some big, some small, all great. She was just always there, kind of like my mom with Cub (and me growing up, too). It makes my heart warm to know he will one day grow up with all these wonderful memories, too: some big, some small, hopefully all great.

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