Even as summer peaks in New Hampshire, a stay colored leaf might
remind me of fall. I grew up in a town near the Canadian border, where my
father's description of the seasons was, "Spring, Summer, Fairtime and
My parents and I lived upstairs over my aged and infirm paternal
grandparents. All of us helped make the grandparents' day-to-day lives as
comfortable as was possible. But Granny was gradually going blind and
Gramps suffered from the effects of two strokes.
Granny's mind was sharp. It was my job to help her with the daily
newspaper's crossword puzzle. It made no difference if I had studying or a
date... time at the oilcloth covered kitchen table was a must.
I so often think of the fall when Granny got the chance to "be useful
again," to say nothing of earning a few sorely-needed dollars.
Her niece had leased one of those lunch stands on the fairgrounds and
she and her daughter would be staying in town during the week-long fair,
catering to the hungry crowds there to see the midway, gamble a bit, tour
the agricultural halls, and of course, watch the horse races and admire the
award-winning farm stock out back.
The good news was that though Gran's relatives would have little time
to rest, they would need a place to stay. There was no spare room; what to
Granny stumbled around, marshalling all the help she could get, and
before long the attached woodshed had been made into comfortable sleeping
quarters for the two women. Red calico was tacked to make a curtain at the
one small window. Comfortable cots, topped with old quilts, were arranged
carefully... throw rugs borrowed from the house would warm feet on the
early morning- chilled pine floor.
Granny would take in a few dollars for "putting up" her relatives, but
the best was yet to come! Within a day or two, the two women got behind at
the lunch stand... finding that simple sandwiches sold like hotcakes. Since
they opened early, the fair employees themselves bought their breakfasts
there, keeping the two women overly occupied.
Near sightless she may have been, but Granny could do her part.
I can see her now, standing for hours with sandwich fixings and
several varieties of bread neatly arranged on the clean table before her,
carefully making stacks sandwiches and then painstakingly wrapping them in
waxed paper and stacking them in dishtowel-lined cartons.
After this week of hustle and bustle was over, Granny stated
emphatically, "That was the best week I've had in years!"
The lesson that memory brings back to me is that we all long for a
chance to be "useful," appreciated, and helpful as well. No matter what
our circumstances, there's usually a way to contribute and, as a reward,
strengthen our self-images!