My grandma and our rain puddle
Beaver City, Nebraska, had a population of 450 people when I was born; simple and safe, idyllic, tucked away in a forgotten place on the Plains. The streets had no stop signs and in summer a little boy could blow dandelions and chase bumblebees. He could lie down in the backyard grass and feel the soil dark and cold, the grass green and tickling, and looking up see the clouds go by like parade – puffy white elephants and giraffes slow dancing in the blue.
When I was a child, summer storms came, and I’d sit at our patio window watching drops slide down the glass, sparkles reflecting the light of my mother’s table lamps. And when the rain stopped, down the empty shining streets came my grandmother, shaking off an umbrella, waving and singing hello to me. Grandma would take my hand and we’d skip along the curb and pick wet leaves from the sidewalk. At a certain corner, where the street slightly dipped, a large rain puddle always formed; and that’s where we’d go.
Grandma would take off her shoes, her socks, and rolling up her pants would wade into the muddy water. She always went first – I must test the water, she’d say – but as she dipped her toes the joy in her eyes gave her away; she wanted to go first because she was as excited as me. The best grandmothers are like that, you know?
In that puddle we made dreams together. We imagined worlds where pirates lurked behind pebbles, where treasure was guarded by slimy earthworms, where an unseen beast lurked in the pavement cracks waiting to gobble up my little boy toes. We tied together sticks and made little rafts for the leaves, sent them floating down the road; the little rafts twisting and wobbling as I wished them a good journey. Grandma was there beside me, standing in the water, laughing, inspiring my make-believe. She played with me, she hugged me, and she was my friend. She was my storyteller. She was the softness of my childhood.
My grandmother showed me how great a woman can be, what can be imagined, what patience can bring, what can be true from the heart. It’s the love I try to give the world everyday.