Last winter a portion of my family (my sister and her family, my dad and I) took most of the grandchildren to the park on a mild day. We had a lovely time, and the adults worked silently to fill the gap of the missing element. There is no grandmother in any of these photographs. The absence is noticeable.
Later that evening Nathaniel, the five year old, turned to me during a movie with a query. “Hey, you know what?” “What’s that?” I asked. “Well,” said he, “you should move down here and spend time with Papa. Cus, well, I had a helicopter grandma.” I confirmed I was aware of his helicopter grandma (of course I was, she was my mom!) and encouraged him to continue his thoughts. “Well, my helicopter grandma she died. She crashed. And now she’s just burned up bones. You could come down here and be my new grandma. Yeah, you could do that.” Trying not to laugh and cry simultaneously, I promised him that I would be happy to be his replacement grandma.