Summer ends and so begins the next chapter in our lives, as well as those of our grandchildren. Eloise has returned to Day Care and May has returned to nursery school and all of the scheduled activities that fill the days of an active toddler, soccer, swimming and play dates with friends. Each has left behind bits of themselves as mementos of a summer now past and waiting to be stored in my memory bank.
I carry down to the basement the remainder of toys left behind in our living room and sigh as I take inventory of all the “stuff” that has accumulated over the four and one-half years that May has been on this earth. Toys and games ranging from age six months to adulthood fill the shelves of the wall unit purchased at the Home Depot. That unit, which we bought with the intention of organizing the massive clutter that lies in small piles throughout our garage, is instead now used to systematize the many playthings handed down to our granddaughters through the kindness of relatives and friends.
The “Pack N Play” is closed and put aside to stay packed until the next time Eloise needs a place to rest her little head. Will Eloise be too big to fit into it the next time she comes to visit? Do I need to set up the crib? Time will tell.
There are the unfinished art projects in which May lost interest midway into their process; stickers, paint, and glitter giving a hint at what could have been.
There is the dollhouse that at one time occupied May for hours on end as she would tenderly tuck the mommy, daddy, May, baby and grandma into beds and cover them with fabric remnants purchased at a local quilt shop. The dollhouse remains in the condition left by May from the last time she played with it early in the summer. “You can let Eloise play with it now,” she announced one July day, and my heart-felt a pang of sadness over a four-year-old granddaughter who is growing up far too quickly for this grammy.
There are the innumerable snacks in the basement pantry, purchased to appeal to a child’s palate, but not necessarily to my husband’s and mine. Will they pass their expiration date by the time May and Eloise return?
My eyes scan the room and rest on a small stone lying in a corner. It is a conglomerate stone, with a thin white stripe running through its center. My thoughts travel to a summer of many rocks, smooth, layered, round, flat, and jagged; each one special, chosen by May, as we walked along the rocky shores of Falmouth Heights and Bristol beaches. Each holds a reason why May chose it; a pretty pattern of grey interspersed in its white mass, a purple tone, and a “baby” stone.
As I hold onto this image, I think back to those early days when May was a toddler, walking unsteadily in our driveway and pausing to bend down and pick up that special pebble to be added to the tiny bucket held in her small hand. Curiosity would drive me to carefully examine each stone. “Why this one?” I’d think. “Why did she pass over all the others only to stop for this particular stone?”
Then I would see the pebble as never seen before; its texture, its striations, its color, and, when all these characteristics were put together, I’d see its beauty through the eyes of a child. One who sees the world with unencumbered innocence, an innocence that often becomes eroded with advancing years. How fortunate I am to have May, and now Eloise, to reawaken in me the simple joys of life. That is the gift of a grandchild.