written by Emily Duda
When we’d finally pull into the driveway, the car was hardly in park before my siblings and I were barreling to the front door. Those of us still tiny enough would line up and beg for our turn to be lifted into Grandpa’s arms. “Up the stairs… went the bears… up, up, up!” he’d sing as he carried us around the house, one-by-one, exploring every room. Being one of 24 cousins, what a treat it was to have my special time with Grandpa- just us.
On summer trips, we’d spend our days at Lake Winnipesauke. Grammy would pack lunch and Grandpa would meet us in the afternoon, always stubbornly refusing to take off his sneakers in the sand. On other days, we’d join Grandpa in his element at the blueberry farm. The owners knew him by name and were excited to see which of us kiddos he had in tow. Our pickings would go straight back to Grammy, patiently waiting in the kitchen to whip up her famous blueberry buckle. I would watch in awe as she’d resist the urge to taste the sweet batter, scraping the bowl to the very last drop. When it was finally time to eat dessert, we’d always make them retell the story about the time our aunt had a blueberry stuck in her nose, laughing until milk came out of ours.
In the winter, the snowcapped mountains were Grandpa’s playground- the reason retirement lured them to New Hampshire in the first place. We’d join him on the slopes and watch as he whizzed by skiers half his age. Grammy would wait for us down at the lodge, eager to press her warm rosy cheeks against our cold ones as soon as we were ready to hang up our hats for the day. When we made it back to their house, we could count on a cozy night’s sleep, followed by a big bowl of Fruity Pebbles in the morning. The sweet cereal was Grandpa’s guilty pleasure- and his secret to aging in style. “Chin over your dish”, he’d warn as I’d scarf down a second bowl.
Nearly twenty years later, I can still smell, and hear, and taste those childhood trips to New Hampshire. Grammy and Grandpa have since let go of mountain life to move back to Virginia, giving trips to their house new meaning. Our action-packed visits have turned to more peaceful quality time; soaking up stories from their past and relishing in the legacy they’ve created with our growing family. At age 27, it’s hard to imagine my 90-year-old self; but if I’m lucky, I will be embracing elderhood with the wisdom, persistence, and enthusiasm of my grandparents. Until then, please pass the Fruity Pebbles.