Papa and I moved across the road from a lake for you. The little place sometimes seems cramped but you don’t seem to mind because here, childhood is on hold.
We take your hands in ours, one child on each side for me and the same for Papa and walk the road, which has settled down for supper. We point to the night birds over the water while the sun meanders down among the trees. It takes its time just like we do; we don’t want anything to end too soon. The mourning dove, the bald eagles, fish slapping while they feed and screen doors sing the evening, Boats tied to their docks nudge the worn boards in a gentle grump.
Tomorrow, we will lie on the dock and peer down through the slats to see what lives there, like a bobber lost last summer or the handle of a reel dropped long ago. I will tell you about when I saw a snake swimming. Maybe you will see a northern lying in the shade there like my brother did long ago. You will help me remember a time when my summers were spent getting wet, not in the chlorine pools of today, but among the soft shore weeds and minnows. My bunions will join your small feet as we slip them into the lake together.
Because I am your grandmother, you will wear a life jacket even though I never did. You will wear the sunscreen so foreign to me as a child but you will share some memories with me too. Like I did, you might find a tiny clam shell and a shiny rock and ask, “What are these?” Perhaps, you will pull up a long weed, whip it around and splash it down on the water. I did.
When papa returns we will go on the pontoon for a ride. Our older bodies no longer adjust to the movements of a rowboat. I hope someday you can learn to love a rowboat as I did. Taking my pillow and a good book, I would stretch out across one seat and let the waves rock me as I anchored in a quiet cove.
Finally at the end of the day, I will whisper my Grandma’s words as she kissed me goodnight, “How wonderful to be a child at the lake, remember it all.”