Debra Darvickenhance your now in word and image
Martin celebrated his 75th birthday a couple of weeks ago. Elliot and his family came in as did Martin’s sister. It was a great weekend hanging out at home, playing in the snow, playing dress up with the girls.. We were all sad to say goodbye. A couple of days later our son called to Face Time. “Leah wants to see your house,” he said. She piped up from the background, “I want to see your kitchen. Where is Grandpa?” Actually, “Where is Grandpa?” was likely the first question.
So began our impromptu FTHT — Face Time House Tour. Kitchen first where I reminded Leah that she and her sister had finger painted at the kitchen counter during their visit. Then on to the living room, stopping for a bit of art education. I showed her a floral still life passed down from my grandfather to my mother and then to me. Painted by A. S. Baylinson, a Russian artist who was fairly renowned in his day, I pointed out the red and yellow flowers; we played find the circles. After the livingroom we headed upstairs to the room she and her sister usually sleep in. Leah wanted to hear the music box that isn’t really a music box but a painted china figurine of Beatrix Potter’s Jemima Puddleduck. We also needed to wind up the Rabbit Mother rocking her bunnies to sleep.
Returning to the kitchen at the end of the tour, Leah said, “I miss you, Aviva. “I come to your house soon?” “Yes, Sweetheart,” I replied. “You’ll come to my house soon.” Oh how a brief FTHT leaves tiny footprints upon the tour guide’s heart.
photos courtesy of Debra Darvick
With some of her saved up allowance, my granddaughter, Olivia, recently bought a journal and special pen. Once home, she asked her mom to write the name ‘Brenda Myers’ on a small piece of paper and tape the paper to her pen. When Elizabeth asked why, Olivia replied something about learning that writers have pen names. And so she had chosen the name Brenda Myers for her new pen.
Yes. That’s right. A pen name. I just might have to give one of my pens a name too. Stay tuned.
I was taking a walk last week and came upon a snail out for its morning constitution. I made this video for my granddaughters. I hope you might like to share it with your little ones as well. Nature is crucial to our well being. Any connection made nurtures the soul.
It was a dream come true to have Olivia stay with us for a spell last month. The plan was for her to attend day camp for the coming week, after which her mom would return with baby sister Leah and stay a few days before heading back. A mother with whom Elizabeth remained friends from their years here in Michigan also signed her daughter for the camp session. The two girls took to each other as if they’d never been apart.
How sweet it was to return to childhood routine: readying Olivia’s backpack the night before; settling into our morning tasks which included making our beds, eating breakfast and putting on sunscreen before she and Grandpa watched music videos. They revisited favorites from The Magic Flute and Swan Lake and enjoyed a new crop which included selections from Frozen and of course Encanto‘s hit We Don’t Talk About Bruno. Martin usually dropped her off mornings and I took the afternoon shift. It was a new/old experience becoming part of the milling crowd of parents waiting for the kids to be brought out.
When the heat relented, we took walks, found bird feathers and watched a platoon of ants carry their finds to their subterranean home. Olivia read book after book while I made dinner. We tie dyed T-shirts and made a mooncake, inspired by the eponymous book by Frank Asch. We had loved reading the book together and had made a mooncake once or twice before.
One morning Olivia refused to let me apply sunscreen. “You’re not the boss of me!” she said. “Mom is the boss of the family!”
Undeterred and uninterested in arguing, I simply agreed. “You’re right. Mom is the boss. And your mom is the boss of me, too.” Olivia’s eyes widened to mooncake circumference. “See,” I continued, “Mom told me that you have to put on sunscreen before camp. If Mom says it, I have to do it.” End of story.
Being a grandmother means certain rules can go by the wayside. Ice cream for dinner? Sure. Ten extra minutes in the tub. Yep. Making one more soap bubble? Let’s do it. We played rounds of SET and some Ravensberger board games she was ready for. The intense heat nixed plans to go berry picking and an afternoon at the zoo, but there was also something quite lovely about staying close to home and making our own fun.
The morning we went to synagogue, I played a certain song I had played in the early years. Dodi li, v’ani lo (my beloved is mine and I am my beloved’s) is taken from the love poetry of Song of Songs. This version is sung in the call and response form of kirtan music. Back then Olivia had just learned the words. They all came back to her and we sang our way to synagogue. Although she didn’t remember as many people as those who remembered her, she found her place again, playing with the same friends she’d played with nearly three years before. Now a big girl, she sought out one of the little ones, a not-yet toddler and kept her entertained for a bit.
Before we knew it, Elizabeth arrived with Leah. She and Elliot had a great time having some alone time with Leah. It was a win-win all around. Thanking us profusely for keeping Olivia for the week, Elizabeth asked as they left, “Can we do this for two weeks next year?”
“Of course,” I replied. “Let’s see what the year brings.”
I’m already planning.
Portrait of Olivia and me by Miss O herself!
Seems to be a collector’s item now.
My dear friend Audrey never got to meet her grandson, Max. Max’s mom Jessie and my daughter met in first grade; their friendship led to Audrey’s and mine. Audrey became Emma’s second mom and likewise, Jessie became my second daughter. Audrey died months before Jessie married. It is a sacred, cherished, and bittersweet role to be there for Jessie at milestones large and small. Whenever I visit, in my mind and my heart, I take Audrey with me.
Last week our synagogue’s green team sponsored a plant exchange and all sorts of kids’ activities focussed on bees and butterflies. By happenstance, Max had found a coccoon the week before and the morning of the event, his butterfly — a Monarch, no less! — emerged. There was quite a bit of fanfare when Max opened the jar and eased out his butterfly. During a lull, Jessie and I took Max into the sanctuary. We brought him to the ark, the enclosure where the Torah scrolls are kept. Its smooth wooden doors are carved into the shapes of animals and Jewish symbols. Jessie, Max and I spent a good few minutes finding rams, birds, and a lion or two.
Next we went stood at the bima, the platform where the Torah is read. We opened the prayerbook and Jessie handed Max a yad, a slender silver pointer, and explained to him that we never touch the Torah with our hands, but use the yad instead to keep the place as the Torah is read. As Max pointed to words in the prayerbook, Jessie recited them to him. He pointed to a prayer that happened to be one his parents sing to him at bedtime. Oseh Shalom asks God to spread peace over us, over all the people Israel, and over the entire world. Jessie and I sang Oseh Shalom to Max. He laughed and giggled with joy. I imagined Audrey joining in, her voice audible across time and longing.
Last week Olivia and I were drawing. “Ring ponds,” she said to me, pointing at my hands.
“Ring ponds?” I asked. “What do you mean?”
“Your knuckles. They look like ponds when a stone goes in.”
Ah, the gift of seeing my aging self through my granddaughter’s eyes. No longer will I see my hands as evidence of time cascading over life’s waterfall. Instead I’ll call to mind “ring ponds,” those infinite circles of wonder, beauty and love — contours of the bond Olivia and I share.