One by one the pins wobbled at the end of the lane except for two. Jumping in the air, I hugged my team-mates, surprised that I would even score. My husband rolled a blue marbled ball down a waxed wooden lane, next to me. Ten pins fell down. Strike! Then my cell phone rang. It was our son. “She’s in labor, Mom.” Within an hour, we were picking up our grand-daughter, Gracie, together with our son’s diabetic alert dog, ‘”Nimbus.”
I remember the first morning of a May spring day when a five-week-old British Lab pup changed our lives forever. A crawling warmness of black droopy ears, wet pink tongue, and four oversized paws was laid into our son’s waiting arms. Standing next to him was his then, “fiancé,” brimming with love and support. She smiled her gentleness of future hope for a married life free of blood sugar demons lurking beneath skin ready to snatch their independence away.
Now, four years old, “Nimbus” has grown to 65 pounds or more. He bows for ‘high’ blood sugar or raises a paw for ‘low’ blood sugar. A member of their family, he is a life-saving tool. Still, when it came time for baby to arrive, it had been decided that Nimbus was best left with Grandma together with his ‘sister,’ Gracie.
The next couple of days, my house turned into a sort of Fairytale Land, where I tried my best to see that Gracie got her rest. Still, when awake, she was Number One for heaven’s sake! On hardwood floors throughout the house, we took turns pushing naked baby dolls in pink strollers. Faster and faster we went, like running an imaginary race with no finish line in place. In the end, she always won with some silly prize she delighted in.
We played outdoors or walked the dogs. Along the way we stopped to pick yellow dandelions with a toddler neighbor, blowing fluffy white ones into the wind. Tiny pieces danced up and away into the breeze like wishes made the night before. For supper, I cooked gooey mac & cheese. Holding Gracie on my hip, she poured a cold mixture from a zippered bag, eyes wide with wonder watching yellow melt into white macaroni. Afterward, we smacked on hot fudge sundaes for dessert, wiping dark brown chocolate from chins while staring at “Frozen” on the big screen TV. Nimbus tried to sneak a bite. Little Gracie’s voice stopped him by singing, “Let it go…Let it go.”
The last night before Gracie went home to a new baby brother, we finished with a bubble bath in Grandma’s deep jetted tub of speckled brown, like sand in sparkled sun. Bubbles billowed while she lifted handfuls to share with me. Before I knew it, Nimbus leaped up and over the rim. Four strong legs stirred and splashed waves, everywhere. A surge spilled over the side. Froth and foam floated to the floor. Big black eyes peeked through soft clouds of pinkish-white. Gracie patted more on top while squealing loud with delight. “Oh, Nimby,” she giggled. “Nimby’s in the tub!”
When darkness fell, Gracie didn’t want to climb into her crib. “Grandma’s bed,” she said. Resting her head on a feather pillow, she sucked on a pacifier while stroking her worn pink bunny between thumbs and forefingers. “Gracie, did you have fun at Grandma’s house?” She shook her head up and down through sleepiness. I asked her next, “What was your favorite part of today?” Abruptly, she sat up, cocking her head to the side with a knitted brow. Yanking out her pacifier with one hand, it made a loud suction sound like pulling the plug from a drain.
“Oh, Grandma,” she said, dreamily. “Your baftub. Nimby in the tub. Grandma washed my hair…sooo soft.” She touched damp curls to her cheek and plopped back down to the plump of a pillow.
Then, in the dim light of my rose-colored lamp, I thanked God for that moment. It stopped my heart with memorable love, leaving me with it until the day I die.
*A memory of two years ago. How fast life changes. Today, my son and daughter-in-law are expecting their third child! Gracie is now age four with her younger brother, the baby above and below over two! And, Nimby…well, he’s slowed down to working only part-time these days. During my son’s working hours at the National Weather Service, Nimbus is on full duty. At home, he takes a break by playing with the kids, chewing on bones, and taking walks in the park. You might say Nimby is spoiled most of the time, like any other pet. Either way, Nimbus has a dog-gone good life!