Last week when I saw Larry driving the tractor and lawn sweeper toward the front yard, I hurried out to stop him.
“Not yet,” I told him. “Leave the sycamore leaves on the ground for the boys to play in. You can rake them after Thanksgiving.”
Memories of playing in big piles of leaves flooded back to me. As a child, I’d rake piles of pecan leaves in the fall, only to jump in them, scattering them everywhere. It mattered not one whit that I’d have to rake them again for Mama to burn. The rake I used wasn’t towed behind a tractor either. I provided the power for it, but playing in those leaves was well worth the effort. Sycamore leaves are even better because they are so big.
When the boys arrived on Wednesday, they brought even more connections to my own childhood.
“Grandma,” Trey said, “we’ve been playing marbles at my school. It’s really fun. You need some marbles . . . .”
Julie, his mother, interrupted.
“Trey, I’ll bet Grandma knows about marbles. You probably don’t need to explain the game to her.”
“Do you have any marbles, Grandma?” four-year-old Will asked.
“I used to play marbles when I was a little girl, but I’ve lost all my marbles now,” I replied. “What I really played a lot of was Jacks. When I was about your age, we girls lined the halls of Jeff Davis Elementary School every morning. We weren’t allowed in our classrooms when we first arrived, so we sat outside and played Jacks. The boys played marbles.”
Jakey ran over to his traveling bag and drew out a smaller bag.
“Like these, Grandma,” he asked, holding up a bag filled with colorful plastic jackstones and a ball.
“I haven’t seen jacks in years,” I told him, examining the bag.
Soon we were in the floor playing away. Suddenly I was the queen of the hallway again. I still have the talent, but I’ve learned a bit of restraint and didn’t beat Jakey too often. I’m delighted to learn that the game of jacks is now a unisex game.
During all the reminiscing I had forgotten that my shoulder is still recuperating from its encounter with the ground, so I asked Stuart, my eldest grandson, to help me get up off the floor, a difficult task with only one good arm.
“You know, Grandma,” Stuart said, as he steadied my upward climb, “when I was in school, we had PCPs and Game Gears. My generation never played with jacks or marbles or anything remotely similar.”
“That sounds like something Grandpa uses to work on the plumbing, Stuart,” I told him. “I wouldn’t recognize those things if I found them in the floor in your room.”
He just laughed and went off to play some electronic thing with his little brothers. So much for jacks and marbles.
Later on, Larry had the boys out in the garden digging sweet potatoes with him. He was loosening the soil with his pitch fork, but the boys were digging just about as fast with their hands. They had a grand old time. Discovering the red potatoes in the dirt was like digging for pirate treasure. They filled bucket after bucket without even realizing they were working.
A very dirty Will found me in the yard and held out a grungy hand to me.
“Look, Grandma, I found one of your marbles in Grandpa’s garden. When we find some more, you can play marbles again.”
I thanked him profusely and hugged him to me, dirt and all.
Later he came in with a handful of cotton he’d picked.
“Grandma, can I take this cotton home with me?”
“You surely can,” I told him. “What are you going to do with it?”
“I’m going to ask MeMa (his maternal grandmother) to make me a shirt with it,” he grinned. “Then I’ll wear it back to your house and show it to you.”
I’ll be waiting to see that shirt. I don’t know if they played in the leaves or not, but I know they had fun—as did I.
The connections were very strong among generations during this holiday. Love of family never changes.