By Heather O.
…Said the 85 year old woman J and I visited today. She is the mother of J’s Sunbeam teacher, a woman who suffers from macular degeneration and is recovering from a hip replacement. Needless to say, she doesn’t get out much. The RS has asked the sisters to go and visit this woman on a regular basis. My turn was today.
I had never met this woman, nor did I know that she was J’s Sunbeam grandma, if you will. She was a charming, lighthearted woman who was clearly hungry for company. I had been told that it was all right to bring kids, as she loves children. You never quite know what an elderly person will think of a young child’s energy and loudness level, so I was a little nervous about it, and told J in no uncertain terms that he had to be on his best behavior. To his credit, he was. To her credit, the whole “she loves children” actually turned out to be true.
J talked her ear off, and she just laughed and laughed with him. He showed her his Buzz Lightyear, talked about his friends, his snake, his dead dog and bird, his preschool teacher, his old house, his new house, and his clothes. He told her about his globe at home, his bunkbed, and his birthday. She took in every word, delighted at every fact. I saw where his teacher gets her talent with kids.
Eventually J got tired of talking to her, and went off in a corner to play with Buzz. He gradually migrated into her bedroom, and I got up to quickly pull him out of there.
“Oh, that’s fine. There’s just some Tylenol on my bedstand–he won’t get into that, will he? Otherwise, he is welcome to play in there.”
I took her at her word, and kept my ears out. I checked on him periodically, just to make sure he wasn’t breaking any irreplacable antiques. Like I said, he did well, until he came out and asked if he could get in her bed. That’s 4 year old code for “Jump on it, pull the pillows off of it, and pretend I’m living in a cave under the blanket”. Definitely a no.
I said no, but like the little booger that he is, he said, “It’s not your bed, Mom,” and he looked to our host for confirmation of his request. I said, “J, I said no. You can play on the floor, that’s it.”
He looked again at Sister W for confirmation, and she couldn’t quite make out what he was asking. I said, loud enough for her to hear, “He wants to know if he can jump on your bed. I already told him no.”
“Oh, sure, he can jump on my bed. He isn’t very big, after all, and my kids used to love to do that,” she said, with a musical twitter of laughter. J’s eyes lit up, and he made to bolt back to the bedroom, but I gave him a firm shake of the head, and told him to go sit down. He crawled behind the couch and pouted for the rest of our visit. Fine with me, kid. At least he was quiet.
But I was truly amazed at this woman’s response. And I actually believed her, that if I had allowed it, she would have been just fine with my kid jumping on her really quite beautiful bed. She talked the whole time about how much she missed her great grandchildren, with her 7 grandchildren already grown. She even had a picture of her great, great grandson, born just this month. Now that’s impressive.
I just had the impression that this woman got it. Nearing the end of her life, she understands what is important. It’s not her things, it’s not her house, her money, her accomplishments,or whatever. It’s her family. It’s the little kids, the big kids, the joy in her posterity: the sheer magic of a 4 year old laughing while jumping on the bed, the struggles of adolescence, the newly minted couples sealed in the temples for time and all eternity who stood in picture frames on her bookshelves.
And guess what she asked me about? Yep, my family. She didn’t even ask what my husband did, really, she just wanted to know how we met, what I liked about him, how long we’d been married, where we had lived. She wanted to know all about J–where he went to preschool, what he likes to do, the songs he likes to sing, what toys are his favorite. And, of course, she provided him with M&Ms, which solidified his everlasting loyalty for her forever more.
The rest of my day was a fairly standard day. We had lunch with Daddy, ran some errands, etc, etc. As I was preparing dinner, I flipped on my new Faith Hill CD. J, who had been playing happily in the playroom, heard the music and came running into the kitchen.
“Mom, let’s dance!” he said, beaming up at me, and grabbing my hands. The food was cooking on the stove, I still had a million things to do for dinner, and I opened my mouth to say the usual, “Not right now, I have to do….” But I thought of my new friend, and what she would say about that moment.
I turned off the stove and said, “Sure, I’ll dance with you,” and we whirled around the playroom for, you know, a good 5 minutes before J got tired of it. Laughing and out of breath, he helped me prepare the rest of dinner, and I couldn’t help giving him an extra hug as we sat down to eat.
I hope I can keep this perspective of life, this gift that this woman gave to me today. I hope that when I’m 85, long done with playrooms and tripping on toys and washing sippy cups and playing endless games of Chutes and Ladders, that I can say to any new mom who comes to visit-
Sure. He can jump on my bed. My kids used to love doing that.
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