Sunday, July 7, 2013
We are on our way across the driveway to the car, and Alivia lingers near the bed of flowers. She reaches her hand out and gently cups a tiny pink flower. "What is the name of this flower, Grammy", she says, and I tell her it is a Bleeding Heart. She wants me to give her a Bleeding Heart plant for her garden at home. Luke tells his father we shouldn't cut trees down, "because they help us breathe," and my son asks me, "Did you tell him that?" Of course I did. Emma sees a red bird and says, "There's a cardinal," because we watch for them at the bird feeder. We talk about nature all the time. These little grandchildren of mine soak up knowledge of the world around them.
In fact, all three of them love to talk -- sometimes the chatter in the car is almost indecipherable as they all talk at the same time. But these are also the moments when they often surprise me with their deep insights and thoughtful questions. These are the times when we discuss so much -- feelings, religion, values, family history, fiction vs. reality. Luke loves to ask what things were like when I was a little girl.
Last week I prepared egg salad to make sandwiches for lunch. Alivia wanted to cut them into little triangles as we did last year when we had a tea party with her other grandmother. We cut them and placed them on a pretty china plate, standing up like sailboats as her great grandfather had done when her grandmother was a little girl. The next morning as I was making breakfast, Alivia asked if she could get some of the pretty china out for breakfast. She went into the china closet and carefully picked out small plates and coffee cups to set the table.
My home is filled with lovely old family photos. All three grandchildren love to look at the photos, learning the faces of their ancestors. They hear the stories of my grandfather's desk that holds their crayons and paper and of the teddy bears collected by my mother and my sister. My mother's dressing table is a favorite of them all, with its large mirror, and the perfume bottles, jewelry and little treasures it holds.
While much of each day is spent taking care of my little ones physically -- keeping them safe, clean, dressed, and fed, the most important moments of the day are these times when I am sharing memories and stories -- when I am encouraging them to notice the beauty in the world around them -- when I am showing them that kindness and honesty are still important in our high-tech world. This "passing down" of their family history and the values of a slower, gentler time will be etched in their hearts forever.