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The Gift of Serenity
Just writing for pleasure. This is one of those pieces that was created out of bits and pieces of my life. Perhaps I shouldn't say so much, because all of it feels real and I enjoyed writing this.
The Gift of Serenity
“Come on, Granny. Let’s goooo!”
I laughed and allowed Serenity to draw me out of my chair. Age, gravity, and attitude. They all work at making a body feel like doing nothing. Serenity, lord I hoped she grew into her name, she didn’t need me to swing with her. She just wanted me close enough that if she swung high or made a jump off the swing set, someone would be there to record it in their memory. Later, she could tell everybody how high she had swung or jumped and end it with, “Ain’t that right, Granny?”
At 5 years old, Sere was blue eyed and dark skinned. Her hair had a mix of her African and English lineage, shoulder length and dark curls. She had beautiful skin, strong long, gangly arms and legs. When I was young, they would have called this a mulatto child. Today, they picked phrases like mocha latte complexion. Speaking of which, if I had a cup of coffee or a nice Starbucks triple shot double pump mocha latte with no foam, light whip and chocolate sprinkles on the top, I might have half the energy of my granddaughter.
I settled myself onto one of the swings as Sere kicked herself into motion. She was big enough now she didn’t have to ask for a push to get started. I remember not being able to touch the ground with my feet, needing that extra push to get the momentum going. I smiled at my old memories and rocked forward, pushed back in my swing and let myself sway.
If you want my opinion, grandbabies are useless. Grandchildren, on the other hand, well I guess they have to be babies before they get to be children. My point is that babies work a body. All take. When I was in my thirties, I used to joke. “If I have babies at this age, I am naming them Amsterdam and Jamaica, cause those are two places I know I will never get to see.” I guess I thought if I named my children places I wanted to go, that by seeing them every day, it would be like visiting in some abstract and vicarious form. So, my daughter, I named Jamaica. Sere is her daughter. My son, well, if you had not already guessed it, I named him Amsterdam. Considering where I am now, swinging next to Sere as she pushed ever higher, I wish I had a Bali, and an India, too. Hell, I should have had entire regions.
“Hi this is my son, Africa and my daughter South America.” Eh, that’s too long. Australia is a nice girls name though.
“Watch this, hey granny, watch this.”
Uh oh, my cue. Lights, camera, action. “It’s all about you, baby.” I dutifully turned and watched as Serenity soared laughing into the sky and landed on her feet, fell forward onto her hands then straightened and clapped her hands together to brush the dirt and grass from her palms. “Woohoo!” I tooted, clapping.
Ever have those moments where you feel like you are in a script and there are certain requirements in order for you to be “in character”? For me, Grandma was supposed to witness and applaud. I had done both of my duties, superbly, I might add since Sere was beaming her toothy grin at me. Toothy means full of teeth, unless you are referring to a child. Then, it means you notice the teeth they have because of the ones that had gone missing. Serenity was missing two, right in the front, and maybe I am soft in the head or just had too much of a granny’s heart but I thought Sere was the most beautiful girl on the playground. Granny wisdom could already see that her upturned narrow nose, long eye lashes, and distinctive cheek bones and chin would eventually flesh out and become a very exotic looking creature. Serenity was going to create chaos in the world of men one day in her future. Yes, she was. I hoped I lived long enough to see it.
“Again?” I asked.
“Of course. You should jump with me.”
“I’m too old for jumping, honey. I could break a bone or throw my back out.” I bent over and pulled off my tennis shoes and socks and tossed them at the pole with a rubber meets metal clink.
“Why would you want to throw your back out, Gran? Won’t you need it?”
I snorted. Serenity had too much smartness for her mouth at her age. I was secretly pleased at her humor, sarcasm and the quickness of her mind. Serenity reminded me of when I was young. The precocious, inquisitive, ruthlessly stubborn nature of youth, I could relate to that, dimly in the far off recesses of my mind. I could recall specifics of my past memories. Here is the crux. Serenity didn’t treat me like I was old. I have come full circle on my comment about grandchildren being useful, or rather I said babies were useless implying that there was a use for children. I am not so old that I can’t follow my own mind. The Alzheimer’s has not set in here yet.
Not only does Sere not treat me old, but she is shrewd and calculating. She has her grandmother mind. Poor thing. I was kicking up speed on my swing. I was bigger. Believe me, I can get higher, faster with more bulk and it really took me less energy than Sere’s tiny little body. I am not interested in divulging my age. You do the math. If Serenity is five and I had not yet given birth in my early thirties, you can work it out from there. I don’t tell people my age because they treat me like some old fart. I have a hard enough time finding excitement or a thrill from life without picking up the attitude and assumptions of the masses that I have one foot in the grave already. All I need is one good push and the rest of my days will be filled with walkers, wheelchairs, and people who say they love me whom I can’t remember a name for.
Serenity was squealing. A delightful sound tickling my ear drums and I was smiling fiercely, the wind making tears pour out the corners of my eyes. My brown, slightly graying hair whipped straight out behind me as I leaned back as far as I could go then crunched forward and kicked to push up as high as I could get. I was up over the bar, the top of the swing set.
“Don’t jump from there Granny, it’s too high.” Sere cautioned but she was laughing and clapping encouragement. I was laughing, and dizzy. It might be the higher altitude from the arch of the swing, I thought optimistically, or more likely my blood pressure dropping. I let the swing slow to what I felt was a manageable jump. This amounted to me jumping and letting go of the chains of the swing and kind of walking out of the groove in the ground and onto the grass. Don’t laugh. Serenity helps me feel younger, not stupid.
“Woohoo! Yeah, woot, woot, woot! It’s your birthday! It’s your birthday!” Sere was much more evocative about my jump than I had mustered for hers. She broke into a rolling hip and hand routine, “Let me see that body rock! All the boys at the playground go, Whomp!”
I busted into a full guffaw. I knew this was some sort of modern dance music. Some of the lyrics sounded like old recycled tunes from my youth. The dances and music, I had never been able to keep up with. Even as a youngster, I favored music before my time. The bunny hop was the wildest dance move I had done as a child. Still, it was a simple pleasure to see Serenity move that way and know. She was the future. I ruffled her curls and reached for my discarded footwear.
“How would you feel about some ice cream?” I said as I took her hand in mine.
She gave me one of her shrewd looks and said, “How about I race you to the car?”
She pealed out of my hand and I was a step behind her. My bare feet felt the grass squish beneath them as I raced across the park and it felt like years were left behind in each of my footprints.