A couple of years ago, in the fall, my daughter-in-law gifted us with several flats of pansies. That spring they were a riot of yellows and purples in the borders of my flower beds, ringing the lawns “out my backdoor” with their visual laughter. We waited until June before we pulled them out to make room for summer flowers.
But the pansies, perhaps in rebellion to being taken off-stage while still in bloom, spread seeds. And now, two springs later, there are random patches of yellow and purple, like the cast off garments of royalty, shredded through my flower beds. It’s a reminder to me that remnants of beauty and goodness can be lasting, even if the initial gift is gone.
When I was a child, my granddad would cross his legs and bounce us on his foot, slowly at first, “the little pony goes a-tritty-a-trot, a-tritty-a-trot, a-tritty-a-trot;” then side to side, “the mother goes a-pasey, a-pasey,” and then with enthusiastic bounces that threatened to topple us from our perch, “and the papa goes a-gallopy, gallopy, gallopy!”
I’m sure I’ve remembered the words wrong, after all, don’t horses go through “paces,” but what is a “pasey?” It doesn’t really matter. When I now perch my granddaughter and recite the old cadence set to motion, two things happen: 1. She erupts with the same delighted giggles I remember seeing in younger siblings; and 2. I wonder how Granddad managed to give so many of us so many rides!
It seems that I often think of my grandparents when she comes to visit. I remember the perpetually-filled, apple cookie jar in Grandma Miller’s kitchen, the warm “mush” for breakfast my Grandma Hatch stirred on the stove (cracked-wheat cereal has once again become a favorite on a winter morning), gathering water-cress with my Grandpa Hatch where a mountain stream ran wide, and a thousand other moments. Dr. Seuss’s “One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish,” will forever conjure up the small study at the top of the stairs of their small home in Malta, where my Granddad Miller would read the book to me “one more time,” while I sat on his lap.
My granddad also used to sing to me, “Susie, little Susie.” Unsure of the lyrics, and feeling that improvising would get me into a tangle (despite that memory is different than what an internet search produced), I wrote them down and am learning to sing “[Suzy, little Suzy], pray tell us the news. The geese are going barefoot because they’ve no shoes. The ganders can’t pay, so the cobblers refuse. Pity little goslings that can’t afford shoes.”
The moments I am creating are different, but they come from seeds of goodness and the feeling of love and acceptance I felt in my childhood when I was with Them. When I spend time with my grand-daughter, tossing a ball or playing “hide ‘n seek,” I remember and I hope. I hope my scattered efforts, shaped by gold and purple memories, will give her the same feelings of love and security.
And no more apologies if she goes home a bit “spoiled.” It’s what grandparents do.