Grandma’s calendar



Spending precious time with a beloved relative or friend will likely never be time regretted.

Her floral teacup in the palm of my hand, I remembered the day she’d given me her only pretty dishes—each piece purchased singly during the ‘30s when she’d waited tables seventeen hours a day to feed herself and her children. “I don’t want them going to anyone else,” she’d said.

“I do love her, and I should go,” I breathed. “But I’m so busy.”

My husband gave me the look that said, “You’re digging pretty deep for excuses.”

Well let him look. My calendar was full. Maybe I could just call her instead.

“She hasn’t had a very good time of it, Babe, and she needs you,” Scotty said.

It was true, not a very good time of it at all. Not as a child, nor as a young wife and then as a single mother and eventually back again with my grandfather. And, now, not a very good time of it—this same grandfather’s death had left her lonely and alone.

“You’re right,” I said. “I need to go.”

Traffic was light. The mountains glistened. If Grandma had come to our house, I’d have taken her to see them, but her arthritis had been acting up.

In western Montana, I spotted a farm and recalled Grandma’s sharing the stories of her growing up in the country and the love and faith in her family. If I hadn’t spent time with Grandma or listened to her read her Bible—

Entering Idaho, I imagined my great-grandfather’s homestead. Grandma had told me about her father’s goodness and losing her mother—and trusting God. Though I often felt useless and homely, Grandma had made me feel good about me at her house. “You’re special,” she’d say, wrapping me in her hug. Today I spoke before hundreds of women and encouraged them. And I needed to go tell Grandma.

“But the timing—”

“Yup, the world will be in limbo while you’re away,” I imagined Scotty saying.

Okay, so nothing would come to a standstill in my absence. The brunch would go on; the women would discuss. I just hoped they wouldn’t be discussing me.

Nearing her neighborhood, I recalled overnights at Grandma’s, singing “All-ee All-ee outs in free” over her rooftop, digging red potatoes for suppers that included jam and watermelon pickles, drying dishes in my very own apron, snuggling into the bed with my very own books and the feel of soft flannel under my chin.

Rounding Grandma’s corner, I remembered her purple grapes and helping ourselves to samples, making clothespin dolls and reading about Peter Pan and Wendy.

I hadn’t yet parked in Grandma’s gravel drive when she appeared. Arms praising, apron and dress fresh-pressed. She hadn’t donned her church hat, but I wondered if I might again find her jaunty collection in flowers, felt and grosgrain in her old highboy. Had she tossed the ones that once “belonged to” me?

Hopscotching, she made her way across the thin strip of lawn. Wearing patched hose, sensible shoes, hair more snowy than I’d remembered and—even standing tall—coming only to my chin, her face was still pretty; her perfume blended with the scent of the parsnips no doubt simmering on her old-fashioned stove.

“Oh … oh … ” she sang, hugging me as if I were a child and steering me up the freshly painted, not-so-sturdy stairs.

“So glad!” I heard, as I deposited my belongings where I would spend the night in the twin bed next to hers.

Passing through the den, I touched the keys of Grandpa’s old piano; considered my tote full of letters and lists and letters; doubted I would sleep.

I’d take long walks and remember how—because I’d thought my calendar was so important—I’d almost missed a promise made to my grandma.

I’d only just pulled my chair up to her wooden table—thinking how still this house was and how animated mine would be—when I spotted Grandma’s calendar with one filled square, and suddenly all I’d thought so important paled, as I read three handwritten words: “Nancy’s coming today.”

We lost Grandma not long after, and for some time I’d take long walks and remember how—because I’d thought my calendar was so important—I’d almost missed a promise made to my grandma at whose feet I’d once sat, my grandma with picture books and telling me all about God. My grandma and our last evening together making chocolate malts for supper—while I told her how much she’d given to me, how she’d planted good seeds in my heart and how she alone had made me feel loved and wanted.

And then, one morning as I gathered the lilies she had loved so and watched a sunrise fill my garden, I suddenly knew I would again hear her singing where the safe place was—and she would write on her heavenly calendar, “Nancy’s coming today.”

NANCY HOAG is a freelance writer living in Montana.


About Author

Leave A Reply