The girls told their mom and dad they did not want to come and stay at my house.  So I went to theirs.

Our son had gone to Office Depot and gotten construction paper so that we could have colors and forms to make Valentine’s cards together.  I had brought each girl a card from Hallmark, and they had quickly set them aside, but when I started making each of them a handmade one, they watched in rapt attention as if magic were happening right in front of their eyes.  “I wish I could out a heart like that!” said one.  “Can you make my card just like hers?” said the other.  On and on came the endless questions, the oos and aahs.

My heart soared as I made paper Valentines for them.  My son and I spent time helping them make theirs and we often enjoyed glancing at one other as we  listened to their continuous laughter and lilting voices.

I remembered at the same time, in my inner thoughts, a Valentine:  the last one I gave my husband was found on top of his desk just days after his untimely death.  I had not known how much it meant to him, but finding in there on the top spot told me how important it had been to him.  “Roses are Red, My Love; Violets are Blue; Sugar is Sweet, My Love; but not as Sweet as You.”  That was its message from a song I had memorized and often replayed in my head dating back to my high school days.  Construction paper:  pink and blue and green colors, expressed in hearts and flowers:  my valentine for Lewis.  Much like today.

I left my momentary reverie and returned back to the joy of sharing this precious time with my grandchildren and son.  After I made a card for him we went over to the family room to play Trouble and Sorry and I lost–big time.   What I always find most amazing is just how much the girls laugh and giggle when they are sent back home.  Such good sports they are…not everything is winning in their five year old hearts.

As I was reluctantly getting ready to go home I asked one last time if they might like to come home with me–hoping it could give a break to the parents and a moment for them to get out and enjoy Valentine’s Day together.

Much to my surprise, they each agreed and mom and dad packed them up and off we went to my place.

Mardi Gras began.

We had mac and cheese for dinner. Toys were soon strewn all over my house:  the living room play houses began to tell a story; the entry way became a garden of assorted favored objects; the family room floor was covered with beanie babies;  railroad pieces and figures filled the family room floor and flowed onto its tables; and the kitchen tabletop had drawing paper, glue , scissors and colored felt pens in a carrousel.  The twins move at their own considered pace from one activity to another in a spiral of parallel play and shared fantasy.  Sometimes, they bring me in; other times I am left out to prepare food or clean up dishes.

For quite a long while they danced.  One played the piano while the other turned in lyrical movements and the occasional quick stops, jerks and jumps of a five year old child, and then they changed places with one another.  Young voices filled the air with stories and fantasies launched from their inner worlds of hope and imagination.  At the end of each dance they bowed or curtsied with grace as grandma eagerly clapped her hands.

Then came THE BIG PARADE.

It has been a tradition since the girls were two.  We bought them a plastic percussion and drum set and tried to give it to them for Christmas.  However, mommy and daddy were not all that happy to have noisy toys at their house, so Lewis and I said, “Fine, we’ll let them keep them here.”  So that very day the parades around the circle on our first floor began:  each of us taking a turn at leading the winding group.  Sometimes even my sons join in.  Occasionally our adult friends come and share in the circling syncopation and add their genius to our rising sounds and rhythms.  We circle at New Years, birthdays, and brief grandchild visits, just any ole time, on a minute’s notice when one of the girls announces outloud:  “Let’s have a parade!”  Come on, Grandma!”

So this was my 2010 Mardi Gras:  parading around and around the circle with my lovely and lively and laughing granddaughters.  Celebrate.  Celebrate.  Celebrate Your Life, Come On!  One, Two, Three…Let’s go!

Happy Mardi Gras To All!

mardi gras in the north carolina mountains

Lewis at Mardi Gras 2006

twins at national harbor december 2009

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