What was it that made my parent’s house so magical to their grandchildren? I remember being there once when Jenny was around six months old. Jenny was a beautiful baby, and that day she was wearing a pretty, pastel baby overalls outfit. In my Mom’s family was a small, white, wooden baby bed on wheels that was passed around to whoever currently needed it, and my Mom had it for Vanessa and now for Jenny. It was only big enough for babies up to about 6-9 months. It was in the living room. Jenny was fussy, and I really didn’t know what to do. My Mom very calmly put Jenny down in that bed, gently patted her on the back and Jenny went right to sleep! I was astonished.
Another time, when Louis was about 4, my Dad bought a scooter, just Louis’ size, at a garage sale for a pittance. However, Daddy ended up having to spend quite a bit more money in order to make it rideable. I was dismayed; the whole point was that it had not cost very much. I remember Daddy, with such a contented and happy look on his face, said “sometimes you can’t put a price on things.”
I remember Louis rescuing my Aunt Mart, my Mom’s beloved only sister (and my beloved Aunt). Aunt Mart was 11 years older than my Mother. Her skin was paper thin. She fell in the kitchen, and Louis was there immediately to help her up. When he saw that her arm was bleeding, he went and got a band-aid and put it on her arm with such care and tenderness. Louis could not have been more than 10? From then on, Louis was a hero to Aunt Mart. She was so impressed with the way he responded to her fall.
I remember Laura, at one year old, wearing one of Louis’ polo shirts like a dress, being caught in the bathroom having unrolled almost an entire roll of toilet paper. She had unrolled it and was standing in the middle of the room when she was discovered, as if she was planning on making her exit with it. We have a picture of this somewhere. She is wearing the exact same expression as me in one of my one year pictures at MY grandma’s house. Except that I was wearing a dress and sitting on an overstuffed chair.
I remember all three children loving those Dr. Seuss books, and insisting on reading them before they went to sleep. These weren’t learn to read Dr. Seuss books; they were a boxed set with real stories. There were waffles, made to order, for breakfast, with fruit flavored yogurt to spread on top or syrup if that was preferred.
I remember Jenny playfully making small, sharp marks with crayons all over the picture she was drawing. It must have been a holiday, because Chris was there, and he asked her, “What are you drawing?” Jenny happily answered, “Dohchies and dornies!”
There were cousins to play with, doting aunts and uncles and occasionally equally doting great aunts and uncles. In and around and undergirding all of this was kindness, grace, and genuine nurturing. Oh yeah, and a lot of common sense.