Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Weekend With Margaret

A weekend has come, and it has gone, just like a parade of all the others which have taken the same course. It, and they, will not come again. They are gone from this life remaining only in our memories, ephemeral and illusive the older they get. This one was different though as a first, and I photographed so much of it, but sadly missed most of it. Mark said at one point that we should be filming the whole thing. We should have, but didn’t. We were too busy being in it to be simply observers. We were watching the grandkid, and that, took total focus.

After a frantic week of super house cleaning last week in anticipation, the big day finally came on Friday to go to day care to pick up the little Margaret for the first weekend staying with us out here at the farm. I was apprehensive to say the least. I had no idea how to do the car seat, but figured it out eventually after learning that the instructions on the side of it weren’t all in Spanish. Once loaded up, we began our drive, her with a “bahbah” of milk to drink while I drove, her eyes steadily watching me as she gulped, me hyper-paranoid of would be stupid drivers running into us, and my precious cargo.

 When we got home it occurred to me exactly how the logistics of unloading her and her stuff, and my stuff was going to be more complicated than simply unloading a pack of dogs that had gone on a ride with me. I couldn’t just open the door and let her jump out and run around unwatched. It hit me suddenly just how much we were going to have to keep an eye on her while her visit lasted, non-stop supervision. I was out of practice at this.

She came with a set of directions from her mother, as to feeding what and when, but nothing about how to keep up with her constant motion and curiosity. We quickly learned there was about a three second window of her being out of sight that was relatively safe, but even that was a guess. In her eagerness to get to a newly found toy or even to explore a spot on the wood floor, she would try to run faster than her newly walking legs could take her and face plants came regularly, fortunately none too bad and the few tears dried quickly.

We learned about the things that we had overlooked that were not “child proof” and put them away. We learned to follow a new rhythm to the hours, and this was hers alone for us to follow. I had forgotten the joy of a child examining a new thing, the total focus on a page in a book, and the glee of knowing there was another page. Slowing time down, is a phrase my riding instructor has preached for years to me in dealing with training a horse, and it certainly came to mind with Margaret. Forget the thought of planning on getting something done, anything at all, because she, was the guiding force that lead us through the day. One moment might be caught in running back and forth across the room, another toddling down the trail to the barn stopping to look at an ant bed or a leaf. Another, her favorite, was sitting in the hallway heading to the former darkroom, just being there, quietly chirping and gurgling sweet contented noises, looking at the dark knots in the pine floor, sometimes spinning a circle on her diaper padded bum, a buddha of happiness in the moment.

We made our first official visit to the toy mega-heaven, Toys R Us, as grandparents with our grand daughter. We had found ourselves seriously lacking in toys that weren’t dog toys, thought she did show a similar interest in toys as does Gracie the Yorkie. We made it home with a drum for her to bang on, a xylophone, a soft plushy rocking horse, some little balls that rattle when shaken, and a few other various basic things to make us feel like we made her happy.

There was time spent in a slow amble walking around the fields with her sitting on Mark’s shoulders, hearing the crunch of the early fallen sycamore leaves as he stepped carefully not to jostle his load. The small pack of the dogs, the ancient shepherd Heidi, the tiny five pound Yorkie Gracie, and our grand dog Australian terrier Stella who we were also keeping for the weekend, wandered behind us in equal fascination with the day, the scents of fall, the breeze of the wind, and the sounds of being in the country. Time had slowed to a crawl and it was nice.

Later there was a bit of snoozing on the sofa with Mark after this long expedition, topped off with a bahbah, and the sweet deliciousness of total abandonment of expectation of anything, just laying there with a sleeping baby girl. Her cheeks were so plump and her mouth a cupie doll’s soft painted lips, slumbering, totally relaxed, dependent, and content. If there is a moment of pure love, I can think of none more descriptive than this scene. 

It was like a new breath of air had been blown into our lives in this little life, in our taking her for the weekend, having time to really get to know her, watch her learn, and begin to really communicate with her. She is a strong willed little person, not demanding but knows her mind and sticks to it, and very, very sweet. Quite often in the midst of toddling back and forth from one toy pile to the next she would stop in her tracks, grab both hands together and bring them to her chin, kind of bend over and a broad grin would fill her face. Then she would rock her head from side to side in expression of pure delight. I wish I could feel that innocence and sheer joy again, but life and years have jaded me somewhat. In watching her though, I came close.

Her parents picked her and Stella up as planned, and just like that she was gone and the house was quiet again. Margaret adds a new energy to the lives she meets and to the places she goes and there is a void when she is gone. When she looks you in the eyes there is a very real and serious look, but always with a glint of a grin, in the depths of her young eyes. She is teaching me.

Yesterday I stopped at a local farmers market to see the huge chrysanthemums out in front of their store. Varying in colors I stood there and marveled that I had not bought a flower in years. I saw pumpkins of varying shapes and sizes and realized that I had not bought a pumpkin in years as well, and questioned myself as to why. I asked about the name of a particularly attractive pumpkin and was told that it was a “Fairy Tale”. This was truly the perfect name for it and all it needed was a few white mice to complete the ride for Cinderella’s trip to the ball. It occurred to me that in the past few years I had been caught up in being a bit too busy, too grown up, too far from the magic except for rare moments to enjoy the simple things like buying a flower and a big ol‘ pumpkin. So I bought two huge yellow mums and that Fairy Tale pumpkin. Margaret made me do it, and I thank her.

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