Something Unexpected

Grampy Gene doesn’t have any grandchildren of his own, but they call him that anyway because he’s my partner of nearly twenty-five years and I’m their grandmother. They lost their birth grandfather to cancer only six months ago, so he’s taken on a bigger significance in their lives. He’s still just a step-granddaddy.

But how do we measure love?

We spent the winter at our house up on Puget Sound and spent a lot of quality time there with these two granddaughters, aged five and seven. My son brought them up to the island to celebrate Christmas, a tradition I hope to repeat every year. 

I made dough-daddies just like my mother did on Christmas mornings when I was a child. As I drift into old age, reenacting moments like that are like grabbing a little piece of immortality, carrying things down to be repeated, keeping traditions alive.

Gene and I love to ice skate and we wanted to teach the girls. So we all met at a rink in Shoreline, rented skates and took off on the ice.

Catherine was game from the beginning. She grimly pushed herself out there, counting her splatters on the ice like a punishment. Emily clung to the sides mostly but braved the ice if I held her hand.

And Gramps was doing great. He’s a good skater, back on the ice after a few years. He was just getting his “ice legs,” skating backwards and doing leg lifts on one skate, but keeping his eyes on the girls.

Oops! He’s not so young anymore. Splat! Right on all fours on the ice.

“No, no, it’s nothing. I’ll just get some ice,” he insisted.

“Marilea, will you drive? My wrist hurts,” he whispered privately later.

Next day, x-rays at Urgent Care, double wrist fracture, painkillers.

“Geez, Marilea! Why’d you tell the kids? Now they’ll feel guilty we took them skating.”

Next morning, before she left for school, Catherine softly climbed into bed where Gene was sleeping, kissing him on the cheek.

“I love you, Gramps. Feel better soon.”

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