Tag Archives: children’s book

My Two Grandmas

27 Dec

I live in South Carolina, just like my daddy did when he was growing up. My mama lived in New York City, but she had a cousin in South Carolina she used to visit in the summers. That is how she met my daddy. They got married and moved to South Carolina, and now we all live in the town where my daddy grew up. My mom’s mom is Grandma Good, and my daddy’s mom is Grandma Peggy.

Grandma Peggy lives a mile away from me in a brick house. The house has a long front porch with two porch swings and rose bushes growing at the end of the porch. My daddy helped build the brick house, and he told me about living in it before the carpet was down or the walls were finished. On cold nights, the whole family slept around a kerosene heater in the living room.

Grandma Good lives in an apartment in New York City. It has an elevator and little mailboxes downstairs. The mailman puts every person’s mail in their tiny boxes, and my grandmother looks in her box every day to check her mail. My mama lived in the same apartment when she was growing up. She shared a room with her sister and they would walk on the sidewalk to the park every day to “get some air.”

Grandma Peggy makes delicious spaghetti casserole in a giant silver pot with a lid. I always hope we’ll eat with her when I smell spaghetti casserole. She also makes coconut cake, but I am only allowed to get the cookies out of the kids’ cookie jar, and I can’t get coconut cake unless Grandma offers me a piece. Staring at the cake with “cow eyes” is also a no-no.

Grandma Good doesn’t cook a lot in her kitchen. But she always has a coffee cake in a white box that she shares with us. I love coffee cake. I don’t know if Grandma Peggy knows that you can buy coffee cake. She makes really good cakes, but she would like the coffee cake in the white box. It doesn’t taste like coffee at all. Coffee is gross, but coffee cake is yummy.

Sometimes I spend the night with my Grandma Peggy, like when my parents want to go to a grown-up party with no kids (yuck) or when my mom has a baby. Grandma always makes sure I get a bath and she washes my hair. She scrubs it with her fingernails and it feels good. I guess she is getting my head ready for the ponytails. She pulls them so tight; I can’t close my eyes all the way. No matter how short my mama cuts my hair, like when my baby sister got gum in it that time, Grandma Peggy can always pull it into ponytails.

This Christmas, we stayed at my Grandma Good’s apartment. My family saw the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. We got all dressed up, and my brother wore a tie.  We saw a giant Christmas tree at Rockafeller Center and rode in a taxi cab back to Grandma’s apartment. I fell asleep on my dad’s lap, and he carried me in the elevator and tucked me in on the sofa bed. I was so tired, but I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I could hear cars and people on the street. I could even hear the traffic light; I didn’t know a traffic light makes noise, but it click click clicks a lot.

Grandma Peggy gives us jars of pear preserves she makes from the pears in her backyard. I get to help her pick the pears because I am not scared of the yellow jackets that buzz around the tree when the pears are ripe. Pear preserves taste great on Grandma Peggy’s homemade biscuits. I like eating the preserves best at her house because of her biscuits. My mom’s biscuits aren’t the same as Grandma’s.

When we catch roly polies and lightning bugs in Grandma Peggy’s yard, we can’t use any of the jars she keeps in the closet (and she has about a million of them). She saves them so she’ll have enough for making preserves.

Grandma Good visits us sometimes and we can’t wait until she finally opens her suitcase. She brings my brother, sister and I special presents from her travels. She gave me a stool once that had a leather top and camels painted on it. I love that stool. Mama says I have to be very careful with it because it is from Egypt. Grandma gave my brother a hat from Vietnam.

Sometimes Grandma Peggy calls me by my whole name in a very loud, angry voice, “Kathleen Elizabeth, you know not to get into my nail polish.” Sometimes she calls me Booger too. At the Piggly Wiggly one time, my grandma Peggy gave me a bag of M&Ms to eat in the shopping cart so I wouldn’t “run around like I have no sense.” When we were in line, she looked at me and said, “I can’t take you anywhere you little booger.” I guess I got some chocolate on my nose.

Grandma Good calls me Pumpkin. When I was only four, we visited Grandma and went to Central Park. We fed the pigeons that were everywhere. Grandma says I chased them around and said, “here, chicken, chicken, chicken,” like I’ve heard my Daddy say to our chickens. I don’t remember that, but I remember Grandma saying, “Those are pigeons, Pumpkin.” Grandma Good says I am her special little Southern pumpkin.

My mom says Pumpkin and Booger mean the same thing. I don’t know about that.

My grandmas have the same birthday. This year, my Grandma Good is visiting and we’re going to the beach where we rent a beach house for a week every year. We are having a grandma birthday party at the beach house, and Grandma Peggy is going to come spend the night for her birthday.

This morning, we all went to the beach. Grandma Good loves to go to the ocean and she wears her swimming cap to protect her hairdo. It is white with pink, orange and blue flowers that stand out all over it. No one else wears a swimming cap, so I can always see her flowers bouncing when she goes for a swim.

Grandma Good was walking in from her swim when a gigantic wave knocked her down. I saw the swimming cap go sideways and Grandma tumbled over. Mama helped her up, but Grandma said she thought she broke something, so she hobbled back to the beach house. I was worried about Grandma. She had her foot up on a chair with ice on it and she was very quiet.

That’s when we heard the screen door smack closed and I smelled spaghetti casserole. Grandma Peggy was here! She put the casserole on the counter and looked at Grandma’s foot. Before we even asked, Grandma pulled her phone out of her gigantic purse and I heard her talking, “Billy, this is Peggy. I’m right down the street from you and my friend Emma hurt her foot at the beach. Would you be a peach and come take a look at it. I’ve brought your favorite coconut cake.” Mama and Grandma Good looked at each other as Grandma Peggy hung up the phone. “Dr. Massey is on his way over. He’s a good doctor, so he’ll fix you up Emma.”

I saw my Mama looking around at the sandy floor, the wet towels draped over every chair and the cards and half-done puzzle on the coffee table. “A doctor is coming here. Everyone, we need to straighten up.” Mama was a cleaning tornado, and I tried to stay out of the way, but she threw towels at me and told me to put them in the laundry room. Soon, we heard a knock at the door, and Dr. Massey looked at Grandma Good’s foot. He felt it and moved it around and then wrapped it in a brown bandage. “It’s just a sprain,” but you’ll need to skip the beach for a few days Mrs. Good.” He gave Grandma Good some medicine, and he had some coconut cake with us before dinner!

We had a special birthday breakfast the next morning. I made my grandmas a picture frame with seashells from the beach. In one frame I placed a picture of me and Grandma Peggy picking pears out of her tree. The other picture was of me and Grandma Good standing in front of the tree at Rockefeller Center. They both said they loved the pictures and cried a little. They both cry a little sometimes when they are really happy. On the back of Grandma Peggy’s picture, I wrote, “Happy Birthday. Love, Booger.”  I wrote, “Happy Birthday. Love, Pumpkin” on Grandma Good’s.

We also had coffee cake for breakfast; Grandma Good had the coffee cake in her suitcase. Grandma Peggy brought biscuits and preserves.  I loved the biscuits and the coffee cake. Grandma Good told Grandma Peggy, “These biscuits are just like Mama’s. They melt in your mouth.” Grandma Peggy also loved the coffee cake in the white box and asked Grandma Good if she thought she could buy them in South Carolina.

On Saturday, Grandma Peggy and Grandma Good stayed at the beach house while all of the kids went to the beach. Grandma Peggy painted Grandma Good’s finger nails and had a “girls’ morning.”  I heard them both calling to me from the porch when I walked to the beach: “Be careful in the waves, Pumpkin,” and “Don’t get too sunburnt, Booger.” I hope one day I’ll have a grand-daughter. I wonder if I’ll call her Pumpkin or Booger.