My grandsons saw me just about every day of their lives until their parents had the audacity to move to Texas. Maybe I could have forgiven Northern California but Texas? Of course the fickle gods of bad luck had more ways to torture me when Covid kept everyone isolated, plane travel virtually ceased, and most people were afraid to leave their homes much less travel to the Lone Star state. A year and a half passed, my oldest grandson grew up to what looked like my chin, the middle grandson lost three or four teeth, the “baby” can now print his own name, and I lost at least 18 months of “Grandma time.”

So, when my daughter-in-law broke her ankle and had to have a metal plate inserted in order to keep her ankle bones together and my son, who doesn’t like to ask for help, reluctantly did ask for help, I put my big-girl pants on and bought a plane ticket. Just in case I chickened out, the ticket was changeable. To help calm my fears, I bought a “comfort” window seat with the seat next to me blocked out. I ordered a heavy-duty mask and practiced counting off at least six feet of space so I could be sure of staying away from Covid contamination. 

The ride to LAX was the usual blend of ocean views, traffic jams and having to worry if I were going to get to the airport before I needed to use the bathroom again. My middle son got to be my chauffeur as the shuttle service was still closed down, and we arrived at the airport in plenty of time. 

To be honest, I was not expecting my flight, to be very pleasant, and I had my hand sanitizer available at all times. I flew on Delta, and the only reason I’m sharing that with you is that it was an almost perfect flight. First, the plane was relatively new, very clean and nobody sat within four seats of me. Then before I had a chance to show off my “iron man” make-over, three gentlemen tried to help me get my suitcase into the overhead bin. Having white hair does have a few perks. When I finally settled into my seat, I was amazed when I had so much leg room that my feet couldn’t even reach the seat in front of me much less be crowded.

The flight was comfortable and relaxed. Nobody sneezed on me, masks were in place, and after landing my son arrived in time to pick me up before I got too nervous around all these “new” people. When we got to my son’s house, everyone else was asleep so I had to wait until the morning for me to get my reward . . . lots of hugs.

Let me assure you, having a metal plate inserted in your ankle can keep you down and out for a few days so I became the designated driver, the chef, and the laundress. Driving around a city I barely knew and not being very good with the use of the GPS on my phone, was not the best combination either. Making dinner for six people is a challenge in my own home much less having to put food on the table in a kitchen I’m not familiar with, using food products I didn’t know. And then the food disappeared. I bought groceries and in two days I was out trying to find another grocery store. I forgot how many calories young boys can eat.

Not only did I have to continually buy food, I also had to do at least a load of laundry every day, especially as the weather warmed up. Then there was Taekwondo for all three boys, homework, snacks and lots of reading to them at night. I have to admit, the “reading to them at night” was more of a joy than any kind of a chore. Reading together has always been my special connection to them, my way of passing on one of my favorite activities. But I must admit, by the time I read that last story, chances were I was sound asleep with three well-scrubbed, growing-way-too-fast, tires-me-out boys.

On the fun side, I got to take my oldest grandson out to the bookstore to buy a new favorite book and enjoy a small treat. Next, my middle grandson and I had lunch, and he chose a birthday present for use now rather than wait for the real day. And finally, my youngest grandson and I had a whole day of grandma time where we went out to his favorite breakfast place, played his version of Sorry, stopped at the cookie store on the way to the library, read the new books we had picked out, and tried to take a nap before having to pick up Momma. 

Seeing those boys, those grandsons of mine, being able to have conversations and laugh and read together and make plans to go to the cookie store and have adventures filled up a void in me that I had tried to ignore for well over a year. Their young lives will speed by so quickly, and I don’t want to miss any more huge chunks of Grandma time. Even though life is so much safer now than a year ago, we still have some hurdles to cross. The vaccines will help us stay healthy. Wearing a mask when needed will help, washing our hands will help, social distancing will help, but remembering that we do all these things not just for ourselves, but also to protect the ones we love will help most of all.




Melinda Wittwer first moved to Carpinteria in 1972 and taught mostly junior high students in Oxnard during her 25-year career. Now retired, she enjoys pottery, writing, books and travel.

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