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Nana visit the Grandkids
by Amy Kenneley

Here Let Us Live

Pandemonium Nana Visit! I receive hugs and kisses, sidestepping the hodge-podge of grandkids' toys to maneuver my suitcase into the house. Backpacks hang, fighting for space on the wall hooks, interspersed with hats and caps flowing down to a basketful of tennis shoes in NASCAR colors.

I used to say that if you wanted to know where a kid was, just follow the trail he left. That was still true, as I found myself stepping over action figures, hop-scotching around Lego manufactories, and ducking beneath the curly- ribbon strings of birthday balloons that still bounced merrily in the air currents as I passed.

TV vs Reality

I headed to the kitchen. Tea was in order after the plane flight. The fridge was the family log, displaying school and sports schedules and souvenir magnets holding up homework papers and photos. Bread crumbs from breakfast mixed cozily with half-emptied juice packs, abandoned by excited grandsons. The decorating so creatively done by Mommy was HGTV-worthy, yet the technicolor of kid's playthings dominated the décor.

Moving through the house, little Matchbox cars peeked out at me under chairs, and foam darts balanced on the edge of the highest bookcase. The Mommy gave a resigned sigh, as if to apologize. I could sympathize with her white-flag smile of surrender to forces beyond containment. Been there.

Nana 'fesses up

I remembered when the first toy consisted of a rattle and a mobile hanging from a crib. Within a few years however, the toy box became the default dumping ground where Monopoly money, Lincoln Logs, and Barbie Doll clothes were stashed about 5 minutes before company came. Not much has changed in the kid-world of busy hands and feet--and even busier minds. The enthusiasm for one toy suddenly is dropped, both literally and physically, to attend to the siren call of something else.

An eager grandson wanted me to play the game I had sent for Christmas. Out came the game, and missing pieces were ignored, as he cannibalized plastic parts from a big box of other games. Innovative.Creative. We played this way for some time, and he adjusted the rules to his own plans. Of course he won, cheering for himself and full of smiles. It was wonderful.


I return to my mostly clutter-free house. There are no scattered toys, no pram-falls awaiting me from tiny cars to hinder my walking from room to room. Except for a few pieces of Meow Mix and a catnip carrot on the floor, all is clear. I know mostly where everything is, and am not called upon to find and identify the ten thousand separate parts of LEGOs, much less put them together. As the Lone Ranger would say, "Our work here is done, Tonto."

OK, young moms won't get that, so never mind. But I can assure them that at some point their work WILL be done, and they can have a semblance of order someday--the order that I now have in my mostly clutter-free home. Very tidy. Very quiet. Very lonely.

Mail and newspapers await my sorting on the dining room table. On the wall above the table hangs my cross-stitched sampler. There is a story there.

Advice on the Wall

Growing up, a cross-stitch sampler hung in our apartment on Hough Avenue. My Aunt Amelia stitched it years before: a little cottage in the woods, surrounded by French knot hollyhocks at the doorway. The verse said,

Here Let Us Live
Life at its Best;
Here let us Find
Comfort and Rest.


I loved that sampler. A cousin probably has the sampler now, but the verse I remembered. When we were about to leave our suburban ranch for our own little cottage in the woods, I cross- stitched the ranch home we were leaving, where we had lived so well and for so long in Willowick. I embroidered that same verse below.

I look now at my sampler on the wall and smile. "Here let us live" it assures me. In the places we have lived, we have been blessed with life at its best. Even with crayoned walls, boots dripping on carpets, homework scattered, toys underfoot.

Every home, mansion or cottage-- wherever life is lived, has the potential for life at its best...because you are living life, not the HGTV kind, but the real thing.

God bless all those moms and dads who know where every favorite toy can be found!

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