The last story for this year is about an unexpected lesson I learned from the smallest and youngest of us all. The lesson wasn’t from anything she said, but rather from something that she does naturally. It will be the way I will try to start each day in the New Year.
Wrapped in a fuzzy dinosaur blanket and wearing a soft, green frog sleep mask, the little redhead suddenly appears in the bedroom doorway. Her arrival has been expected, after all it’s the weekend. And weekend routines are different from the normal controlled chaos of school mornings around our house.
Without a word, she glides across the carpet, takes her place in the middle of the love seat, drawing her legs up and leaning over to snuggle The Wife as she settles in to watch The Great Gingerbread Baking Challenge.
From my side of the love seat, I look at the little face of our Sweet Caroline and any stress and worries of the days before vanish as if they never existed, replaced by peace and calm of the new day.
Five minutes go by without a word. Finally, the silence is broken. “Hey, don’t I get something this morning?” (I really felt left out.)
Without diverting her eyes from the Gingerbread Challenge, our Sweet Caroline reaches over and starts finger crawling up my arm imitating a spider. It’s something she does quite often of late. But this time, her sweet spider bit me! Expecting a hug rather than a spider bite, I withdraw my arm and exclaim, “What was that?”
Still watching the challenge as one of the elaborate gingerbread houses topples over (one of the contestants used butter cream icing instead of royal icing as the “glue” for gingerbread panels), Sweet Caroline smiles and replies, “It’s a Tarantula Black Widow Scorpion Spider, and there is no cure.”
The Wife gets all the warm, sweet morning hugs, and I get a deadly spider bite. What an appropriate way to end 2021. Now I must play dead.
Luckily for me, Little One soon enters the bedroom and sits down next to me. Caroline informs her Papa is dead after being bitten by her deadly Tarantula Black Widow Scorpion Spider. To my surprise, Little One brings out her spider that crawls up my arm and bites me also! A pandemic and now two deadly spider bites. The way things are looking, I may not even make it to see the New Year.
Then without warning it happens. Little One leans over, giving me a much-needed morning hug and some hope. “Don’t worry, Papa. I’m a good spider. I just made you all better.” This announcement starts an argument between the granddaughters which, thankfully, carries them into the living room and their treasure trove of toys, compliments of Santa.
The Wife smiles, leans over and gives me a kiss. “At least you’re not dead anymore. I’d really miss you if you were gone.” She goes to check on the girls and to start breakfast, leaving me on the love seat by myself to reflect on what just happened.
Our seven-year-old granddaughter had unknowingly taught me a better way without even being aware. Just like her, I will start each day in 2022 with peace and calm, letting the stress and worries of the previous days go.
That is, if I can survive the rest of 2021. Our Sweet Caroline has re-entered the bedroom and she now has not one, but two Tarantula Black Widow Scorpion Spiders. And they are both crawling their way back over towards me!
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]