My cousin Barbara was an only child wise enough to be born to older parents continuously thrilled at their creation. They indulged her in everything, the way my parents should have done me, understanding she was precious and needed protection from life’s hard edges. They all lived the house with Grandma and Grandpa so it was going to be a challenge to avoid the fact that Grandpa had died in his sleep. They worried that Barbara’s three-year-old psyche would be damaged by Grandpa’s selfish death. They tiptoed around Barbara, trying to take care of the death situation without shocking her. One kept her occupied while the body was picked up, the other entertaining her at all times while making innumerable phone calls, only whispering regarding all the mysterious goings on. Barbara was truly sensitive. They congratulated themselves on managing the secret well, until they heard Barbara singing gaily to her dolls, “Grandpa’s dead! Grandpa’s dead! I ain’t never seen Grandpa dead!”
Later that afternoon, Barbara came through covered in chocolate. Grandpa had had a habit of trading Barbara chocolate kisses for Barbara kisses. Her parents wanted to know where she got the candy. “Grandpa gave it to me.”
Her mother was still worried about Barbara’s psychological health. “But Barbara, Sweetie, Grandpa couldn’t have given it to you. He’s gone.”
Barbara’s reply, “Well he must not have wanted it. He didn’t take it with him.” Before he was done, Grandpa ended up giving Barbara his magnifying glass, his pocket watch, his felt hat, his feather pillow and anything else she wanted.