The old, mauve, overstuffed wing back was the perfect place for cuddling. Jenny and James had first bought it for reading, and it had been perfect for that, too, but they didn’t know when they picked it out forty years ago that it would also be the ultimate chair for cuddling grandchildren. But it was. For some reason an adult and child nestled comfortably together, cocooned there. Jenny had used it with all her grandchildren. She loved the way she could nestle her cheek in their hair and breathe in their youth. She loved when the child in her lap would bend his or her head up to her and smile. Each one had his or her own personality and to Jenny that most clearly shown through when they smiled. Each child’s smile was a bit different: cocked, a grin, crooked, wide or tiny and with each child’s smile she could also see the teeth, again filled with personality—some straight and long like James, some with a gap like her brother Tom, some crooked, some whiter than others. The smile also shown in each child’s beautiful eyes—again with their own personalities. Somehow love sat in her heart a little deeper in that chair.
Today she held her youngest grandchild, Maggie who had been one of those “surprise” babies, and she was a little one full of surprises. Jenny loved it when Paige dropped her off when she needed to run errands. She called them “Surprise Visits.”
As she and Maggie cuddled together, Maggie took the two fingers of her right hand that she had liked to suck for comfort ever since Jenny could remember, tipped her round, fair, pink-cheeked face up at Jenny, a huge smile showing her crooked front teeth that stuck out a bit because of her constantly sucking her fingers, her blue eyes rimmed with navy blue, sparkling with an ever-present merriment and said, “Candy?” Well, really she’d said, “canny” but Jenny had heard it enough times to know what Maggie meant. It was usually the first word out of her mouth, anyway.
“So you think you want some candy do you?”
“Yes,” Maggie said shaking her head for emphasis still gazing into Jenny’s eyes. Jenny loved the way Maggie always said, “Yes,” not uh-hu or yeah, but the real word.
“I don’t know, where would Grandma find any candy for you?”
“Right ‘dhere’ “ Maggie said with a giggle as she pointed to the wooden box that said “Lollipops for Good Little Girls and Boys” that Jenny kept well supplied with Dum Dums on a table by the wing back.
“Oh, this candy? I thought this candy was for boys,” Jenny said trying to look surprised. “Are you a boy?
“No,” Maggie said through another giggle, “I a girl!”
“Isn’t your name Ethan?”
“No,” Maggie said, her eyes widening as she pointed to herself, “I Maggie!”
“Oh, well . . . let me just read this wrapper here and see what it says. I thought they were just for boys,” Jenny said while pulling a strawberry-flavored Dum Dum from the box.
She inspected the candy closely. “Hmmm, it looks like you’re right, Maggie. This sucker says it’s for girls and boys! Would you like it?”
Maggie’s eyes glistened a bit merrier, if that were possible, “Yes, PEAS!”
“All right, let me unwrap it for you.”
“Sank you!” Maggie said, her little feet bouncing up and down, toes curled in anticipation, before popping it into her mouth perfectly like a screw finding its groove.
Maggie and Jenny sat for a few quiet moments while Maggie twirled the sucker in her mouth and bounced her feet up and down some more. Jenny cuddled her granddaughter in a little closer.
Suddenly, Maggie pulled the sucker out of her mouth, flinging it dangerously close to the shoulder of Jenny’s white blouse, “Where Mommy go?” she asked looking up and smiling again.
“Mommy went to the store.”
“Why?” Maggie asked swinging her Dum Dum back and forth like a high-school band director.
“Ethan needed some new shoes,” Jenny said smiling down into Maggie’s cherubic face, with a mouth now rimmed in sticky pink.
“Maggie, too?” It was always “Maggie, too” with the youngest, no matter the topic of conversation.
“No, not Maggie, too.”
“Why?” With Maggie, if her question wasn’t “me too,” it was “why.” She had just turned two recently.
“Your mommy and daddy just bought you new shoes last month. You remember. What color were they? Jenny asked.
“Pourple!” Maggie said, said swaying the Dum Dum back and forth again.
This child might actually have some band directing potential, “Really? They weren’t brown?”
“No!” Maggie said her little round face a little redder, “p-o-u-r-ple!”
“That’s right, Maggie. They were purple,” Jenny reassured Maggie, kissing the top of her head, feeling soft blonde hair just now growing long enough to cover her head in waves.
Jenny and Maggie continued to sit in the mauve wing back, lost in conversation until Paige opened the door and Maggie, mouth in the shape of an excited “O,” looked up at Jenny, and said, “Mama!” before jumping off Jenny’s lap and running to Paige in the hallway.
Jenny took a few seconds to enjoy the warmth that lingered where Maggie had been. Where there always would be a place for Maggie. She smiled with a deep joy. She knew those talks she had with Maggie were trivial. Many people would say they were about nothing. Jenny knew they were about everything.