Passing On Love

I had just walked in the door after dropping off the costume I had made for a friend’s daughter when I noticed the light blinking on my answering machine. It was my friend saying, “I know you worked hard on the costume and it looks very nice, but Janet doesn’t like all those sequins. Could you change them?”

I groaned. Annoyed, I started to call her back—until I suddenly thought of Grandma and what she had once done for me long ago when I visited her in New York City.

It was the summer I was eight. I can still see the chalk on the sidewalk marking a game of hopscotch outside her building. As I entered I could smell the pine oil the janitor used to wash the hall floors. Flying upstairs, I knocked on Grandma’s door.

Grandma had something special planned every day. She had saved a few coins so we could go to a picture show. One day we threw bread to pigeons; another day we watered the evergreen on the fire escape.

At the end of the week Grandma decided to curl my hair. She told me I was going to look like Shirley Temple. She spent a long time on each curl, and I could tell she enjoyed styling my hair.

When she was finished she sighed with delight. She was so proud she had me stand on a chair to look in the mirror. My heart sank. I looked ridiculous.

“You can go out and play now,” Grandma said, smiling.”

I nodded and slowly walked down the stairs. Reaching the vestibule, I looked out the small window in the door and could see the neighbor- hood kids playing hopscotch. My best friend, Ducky, spotted me and began to jump up and down. She waved for me to come outside, but I couldn’t move. I knew everyone would laugh at the curls. At the same time I couldn’t go back and tell Grandma how I felt.

Finally I went upstairs. I could hear my heart pounding with every step. I began to feel sick. I knocked on Grandma’s door. When she opened it, I said in a scared voice, “Grandma, my hair’s too curly.”

She never said a word. She placed a comb in water, combed out all the curls, then stood me back on the chair so I could see in the mirror. Afterwards I went off to play.

It was when Grandma took out the curls that I knew she loved me. She had put my feelings before hers. And that is the kind of love I try to pass on today.

That memory fresh in my mind, I called my friend back. “I’d be glad to change the costume,” I said. Grandma would have been too.

– Dorothy Ann Gutt

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