Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tell Me a Story, Grandma

While riding in the car the other day, granddaughter Kylie said, "Tell me a story about when you were little, Grandma." A frequent request by my grandchildren.

I proceeded to tell her the "sledding story."

One winter when the ground was covered with mounds of milky white snow, my neighbor, William, urged me to go sledding on Reservoir Hill with his buddy, Tommy. I agreed, and off the three of us trudged, William pulling a wooden sled behind him.

After we climbed the steep hill bordered on the left by barbwire fencing to keep the cattle on the other side from crossing, William looked at me with a gleam in his eye. An expression I had come to know as dangerous.

"Hey, I have an idea!" he said, flashing his pearly whites. "Since we only have one sled, how about all three of us go down on the sled together?"

It was more of a demand than a question, really. He was a take-charge kinda guy, and although I had definite reservations, his winsome way made it hard to refuse.

"Tell you what," he continued. "I'll get on the bottom; Tommy, you lie down in the middle; and Eileen, you stretch out on the top." We had played together for so long he knew I was ambivalent. "It'll be fun," he insisted with a nudge of his shoulder, hands in his pants pockets. "And, Eileen, you won't get hurt, 'cause you'll be on the top!"

I sucked in a breath of icy air, chewed on the corner of my lip, and finally agreed. What was the worst that could happen, after all?

I was about to find out. As we flew down the hill, William frantically clutched the rudder to maintain control while pieces of snow plastered our faces and hair. I opened my eyes long enough to see us inches away from the barbwire fence. Just as I squeezed my eyes shut again, William swerved the sled to the left, spilling me off the top and into a patch of melting snow mixed with mud.

As I stumbled to my feet, wiping my gloved hands over my brand new brown tweed Christmas coat, I glared at William. Sheepish, he shrugged, "I'm so sorry. Really sorry. Are you all right?"

"Yeah, sure, I'm all right." Technically, that was true. No scrapes. No bruises. No broken bones. No barbwire marks anywhere on my anatomy.

My outer body was secure, but my spirit was considerably rumbled, for my brand new coat was a muddy mess! And it was my only coat. I could hear my mother now.

"What in the world have you done? Look at this mess! Why, I'll never get this clean!"

A gash somewhere on my body would have been better than a dirty coat. This was bad, and I prepared myself for the tongue-lashing I would receive when I got home.

At snail speed I crept to my house, gingerly stepped onto the breezeway, and reached for the kitchen doorknob. The door flew open and there on the other side stood my mother.

I swallowed past the lump in my throat, fully expecting a maternal tirade followed by a paternal spanking that would warm my cold backside.

Instead, she gently nudged me inside the toasty, ginger cookie kitchen and helped me shrug off my brown tweed coat with the velvet collar.

She stepped back, turned her head from side to side, and frowned. "Hmm . . ."

Here it comes, I thought.

"I think we can take care of this. Why, I'll wash this up and it'll be good as new."

I believed her, 'cause mama had a knack at repairing, fixing, cleaning up, mending-- you name it, she could do it!

Next thing I knew, the brown tweed Christmas coat with the collar soft as puppy ears was hanging alone on the clothes line against the crisp snow, good as new.

When I finished the story, granddaughter Kylie piped up from the backseat. "Ya know, Grandma, your mommy sounds like Jesus."

I had never thought about that before. "Ya know, Kylie, you're right, she does."

And once again, a little child shall teach them.

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