If I close my eyes, I can still see my favorite spot in my grandmother’s house. She had a vanity dresser with a drawer that was used just for her grandchildren. In it were a few crayons, a coloring book, and a doll or two.
I can see myself, as a little girl, opening that drawer to pull out those toys. I had a lot more at my own home, but somehow, being at her house made them much more special.
Years later, many years later, my own children would discover the wonder of that drawer as they spent time with the woman who had been my world for so much of my life.
I don’t think the toys had changed. I’m fairly certain my own children colored on the same pages I had long ago.
I think about how much I looked forward to running to that drawer every time I went over to visit. Everything about her house was special to me. It was a place full of indescribable love, one where I knew I belonged.
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That coloring book and those few crayons are long gone now. I imagine, after my grandmother died, that someone in their haste to clean tossed them into a trash bag thinking they were of no value. And, technically, they weren’t.
But they were. They were priceless.
Those few toys only exist in my memory now, the same place I go to visit with my grandmother nowadays.
My husband and I are the grandparents now.
The few toys we keep here at the house for our grandchildren would get lost among all the ones they play with at their own home. They probably aren’t even the type of toys they would want if given a choice, but I know they are the type embedding into their little hearts.
No one would pick a package of Q-tips off a shelf of toys, but they have been used to build many roads and railroad tracks on our living room floor. If given the choice of baby dolls and stuffed animals or the simple paper dolls I scratched out on index cards and printer paper, almost all children would choose the ones with price tags attached. But these paper people have given our grandchildren hours of pleasure.
We can afford to buy better toys for them, but I know what kind of playthings become memories. And I want us, as their grandparents, to be so deep in their hearts they can pull us out whenever they want to remember the way we’ve always loved them.
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None of us can possibly know how time will move on. As a little girl, I knew my grandmother loved me more than anything. That love has carried me through many decades of life and good times as well as bad.
I still feel her love today. And I know I always will.
I want this for my precious grandchildren. So there’s a paper family taped to our wall with little cheat sheets on the back of each to help me keep them straight. And there’s a stack of toys behind our couch for little eyes to see when they come to visit. These toys show them how we are always here for them, waiting for them, ready to play with them, forever loving them.
Sometimes love is shared with words.
Sometimes it looks like a drawer with an old coloring book and a few broken crayons.