We were renovating one of the extra rooms and storing all its furnishings in the other when Emma came to spend the night with us. There was no extra bed, no extra room, so she shared our bed with me and Roy slept on the couch.
Emma adored ‘Pa-pop’ Roy, no two ways about it. Me? I couldn’t figure it out. My jealous side wanted to know what he had done in two short years to become her idol while my self-righteous side asked, ‘Shouldn’t he let her know somehow that she shouldn’t worship him?’
I loved little Emma and spent many an hour entertaining her, but when her ‘Pa-pop’ (that’s how she pronounced it - only with a sense of wonder added in) came through the door, it was as if mystical, heavenly music rang out. Her mother told us that whenever they drove near our neighborhood Emma would announce that they were near her ‘Pa-pop’.
Anyway, on this night that she stayed with us, we got six inches of wonderful, cold, white snow - but I don’t mean to jump ahead.
First, I awoke to the sound of Columbo needing to be let out. I had not had a solid night’s sleep - Emma is restless and makes the most of the space in a bed. I got up with little prodding from Columbo - his bladder will wait only so long. I walked down the hall and passed by Roy on the couch. I put my hand on the doorknob, Columbo was right there with me.
“I just let him out and fed him,” came Roy’s voice.
Ah, so Roy’s not asleep. “I guess Columbo is just trying to figure out who’s where,” I surmised. “I thought he still needed to go out.”
Roy didn’t move.
I decided I might as well use the bathroom - the main one - so as not to disturb Emma, so as to get a little more sleep. Once inside though, what did I hear but little feet padding down the hallway? My conniving mind thought, ‘she’s headed toward her Pa-pop, I could sneak back to bed.’ Then ‘No, that’s just not right.’
I peeked out the door in the direction she went and there she was looking at me. A tiny finger to her lips, she whispered, “Shhhhhhhh - Pa-pop!”
His sleep she protects, me she kicks through the night.
It was late in the day before we got outside to enjoy that wonderful snow. We planned to get out much earlier, but life gets happily complicated with a two-year-old. All bundled up til we could hardly keep our arms against our sides, the three of us and Columbo waddled outside.
We walked, we hopped, we ran, we fell. We made snowmen and snow angels. When Emma held her arms up to me and said, “I carry you,” (that’s how she asked) I swept her into my arms and huffed my way, with Roy and Columbo, back toward the house. But Emma was not done.
She wriggled to be free as we reached the lines of fir trees. I put her down and she pushed between them and called, “Come.”
Roy said, “I’ve had enough. I’m taking Columbo in.”
So...I followed Emma into the thick, quiet boughs piled high with heavy white marshmallows of snow. We wandered in and out from tree to tree. We discovered areas where we couldn’t see out and couldn’t be seen from outside. Boughs dropped snow on us. We lifted mittens full of snow to our mouths. I stuck out my tongue and put some on it. It felt wonderfully cold and it disappeared fast! Emma laughed. She put snow on her tongue, covering much of her little face. She laughed and laughed and laughed. Again and again we did this until Roy came to find us. What fun!
I knew this time must come to an end, this day would end, but a pure joy had struck my heart. At what age do we begin to keep memories? I’ve been told that the earliest things I remember happened when I was three. I know Emma loves her ‘Pa-pop’ and with good reason and I pray that her memory will be flooded with great times spent with him and I, but what a wondrous privilege if someday when her childhood years are long past, Emma thinks back and says, “I remember how much fun it was when my Gran played and ate snow in the fir trees with me!”
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