As I hold my tiny granddaughter, I remember melting into my grandma’s pillowy softness and smelling her Cashmere Bouquet Talcum Powder unaware she’d ever played any role but “Grandma.” Though I’d always heard Mother address her as “Mama” I stung with jealousy when I found out Grandma actually was her mother. I felt as though they’d somehow cheated me by knowing each other first. My first conscious memory was of toddling barefoot behind Grandma as we headed out to see her chickens. I spotted a road-grader and strayed off the path to investigate, stepping into a nest of sand-burrs, those mean little stickers that hide in short grass. I howling as Grandma hurried over with her flat-edged shovel and seated me on it as she pulled the stickers out of my tender feet.
We went on to check on the chickens where Grandma praised Della, her Dominecker Hen for laying a double-yoked egg yesterday, remarking to the others they might consider doing the same. She told Sally not to start acting “Broody.” She didn’t have enough eggs to “set” her yet. She counted her chickens and found Susie missing. Grandma got a long stick and poked under bushes till she flushed Susie out from her “stolen” nest. I felt so important crawling way under the bush bringing back two warm eggs. Chiding Juanita, a ornerny red hen, she threatened to invite her to Sunday Dinner, saying “You’ll make some mighty fine dumplings if you don’t lay a couple of eggs this week!” I wasn’t that invested in Juanita and don’t recall whether we had dumplings or not.
The barn fascinated me most of all as I peeked through the crack between its chained doors at the child’s table and chairs stored in its mysterious shadowy interior. My grandparents and uncle had only rented the furnished house. The barn and its contents were off limits to me. Nothing could have made it more desirable as I imagined the treasures it held. Surely, there was a tricycle, a wagon, and since it was a barn, of course, a pony! The longer I was denied, the more the list grew. Never was a child so deprived or tormented by desire.
I do hope my little one recalls sweet stories of our our times together one day.