Gramma never did lose her cool. Not that us kids made it easy for her. Three siblings spending summer vacation together are bound to create some sort of chaos, and that’s usually what we ended up doing. It wasn’t so bad on those nice sunny days when we could explore the grove of gnarled oaks behind the cottage. But the days when gray clouds hung low and we had to find pans to place under leaks in the roof – those were the days that we tried Gramma’s patience.
“That’s not fair!”
“Give it back.”
Whether we were playing games, drawing pictures or supposed to be resting, somehow we managed to find something to fight over. But if Gramma was ever frustrated, she never let it show.
“Lucy, would you come here?”
I can still hear her soft voice, beckoning me from the fight. We were all used to someone yelling at us if we argued, and Gramma’s quiet tone caught us off guard just enough to cease the row.
“Do you remember the story I told you about Jesus?”
I would nod as my head made its way to her shoulder. The couch was where we always had our little chats.
“What did Jesus want us to do?”
“Love each other.” It was hard not to sigh as I answered. Getting caught ignoring Jesus’ teachings never felt good.
“And what do you think He would want you to do now?”
I would glance over to my brother and sister as they tried not to listen to our private conversation. “Apologize.”
Gramma’s arm tightening around my shoulders told me that I had the right answer.
Sometimes it would be Becky sitting on the couch with a tear running down her cheek, and sometimes it would be Rob. We couldn’t have planned our rotation better if we’d tried. I never once heard Gramma raise her voice though. Every so often, I’d see her sigh and perhaps raise her eyes heavenward with a hasty prayer under her breath. But it was her soft hand running through my hair that would always appease the storms, not harsh words.
I suppose there were days that the three of us were on what we considered to be our best behavior when we still turned her hair even whiter.
“Honey…what do you have in your hand?”
My brother would offer a proud smile as he presented Gramma with what he thought was quite a prize. A toad, however, was something that was not to be in the house. Nor the caterpillar that I brought in from the garden, the snake in a shoebox, or the stray tomcat that Becky had coaxed in with her leftover sandwich.
More than once, I would expect a shriek or sharp reprimand in reaction to some of our findings. But the most Gramma would ever do was take a step backwards and gasp at whatever treasure happened to be in our hot hands. Next would come the reminder, quite relaxed and sometimes even with amusement. “Lucy, that caterpillar is beautiful, but do you remember the rules?”
Her behavior would always bewilder me. She was so reserved…so unruffled, no matter what happened. I used to wonder if she was an angel in disguise, designed especially for putting up with my siblings and me.
One time, Rob had used one of Gramma’s kitchen utensils to dig a grave for a deceased field mouse, and I couldn’t resist asking about her composed response. “How come you never get mad?”
Gramma just smiled and pulled me into one of her bear hugs. “Do you think I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a youngster like you?”
I knew there had to be more to it than that…maybe she really was an angel. But at the very least, she was my Gramma, who was full of enough love that no anger ever had room in her heart. And that’s all that really mattered to me.
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