Something magical happens when “grandma” appears in your name. Actually, in my case, the name is “Nana”. To some, nana conjures up images of an old lady sitting in a rocking chair reading books and singing to a content toddler in her lap. Not this Nana! This Nana is very busy indeed. There are the few times when a good book and a comfy rocking chair serve their purpose for a few seconds. But when three-year-old Devyn is in the house, we’re more likely to be rocking and rolling than rocking and dozing.
Magically, Nana’s knee finds a way to keep up the pace. My energy level gets a boost out of nowhere and I can Nay Nay and Whip my way into a frenzy dancing to Janis Joplin on the old record player. There is no slide too tall nor fort too low for Nana. The super-human strength even holds up when Devyn suddenly has to ride on Nana’s shoulders during the longest hike into the pasture to find the elusive crowing rooster.
What is it about being a Nana that brings out this “magical” vigor? I think it is a mixture of bathing soup and sun scream. Every time Devyn and I are together we laugh. We laugh our way through Miss Devyn’s Whip and Nay Nay dance lessons. We laugh as we sail over rough seas in our homemade couch yacht. We laugh at bubble bath beards and edible cow pies (Devyn’s favorite imaginary snack). There is nothing too crazy for Nana and Devyn: between finding the hippopotamus hiding in the closet to dragging the giraffe out from under the bed, we laugh our way through the day.
When I was a kid, I used to spend summers at the Jersey Shore in Atlantic City with my grandmother. We’d spend hours on the beach making elaborate drip castles - just me and grandma. It seemed that time stood still during those hours that we let the sand drip off our fingers creating beautiful castles for imaginary princes and princesses. Sometimes we talked, sometimes we just dripped our castle - no words necessary.
There are days I wish that I could gather up those grains of sand and turn them into seconds. If I did, I bet I would have enough seconds to fill up another lifetime with my grandma. She didn’t watch the clock worrying that we were frittering away our time. Even though she had arthritic fingers, she never once told me that we needed to stop building drip castles. She knew the secret of grandma strength - laugh, dream, imagine and love.
Today, I was getting Devyn ready for a day at the beach with Nana. As we were gathering up our pails and shovels for our drip castles, Devyn reminded me that she needed to get her bathing soup on and that I need to pack the sun scream. I laughed.