By Ellen Greene
Two weeks ago, Lily, Anna, and I hit the road, headed again for the East Coast. This time we would add Washington, DC to stops in New York City, Weston, Connecticut, and Cape Cod that we made a couple of years ago.
The girls are real troopers and make sassy, fun, thoughtful travel companions. They pack light, rarely complain, mind their manners while staying in other people’s homes, and are up for everything, from canoeing to museum hopping to aimless wandering just to see what we see. They’re tough, too. Keep them fed and watered, and they’ll go for hours.
I enjoy their company more than ever now. To be honest, I wasn’t much of a grandmother when they were babies. I didn’t coo or flash their photos or fill shopping bags with tiny clothes from Baby Gap and Gymboree. As with my own children, I grew into my role of mother and grandmother as the kids began to talk, especially after they reached “the age of reason,” Catholic catechism talk for age seven.
Anyway, back to our trip report. First stop was my brother Jim’s house in Connecticut, where other family members living nearby piled in for a barbecue, pool party, and kids’ sleepover. Earlier, sister-in-law Teri took the girls into town for their first manicure and pedicure.
Anna wriggled her bright green nails under my nose. “I’m all ready for the City,” she said.
Next stop, Jim and Teri’s small apartment in New York and a return to shops that were hits on our last trip, e.g. American Girl for new doll outfits, Hershey and M&M in Times Square for treats, Toys R Us for a ride on the in-store Ferris wheel. Supper at Serendipity3 was just an excuse to order their gargantuan sundaes for dessert.
Next up, Amtrak to DC, with base camp at niece Beth’s house in Alexandria, Virginia.
I would call Lily and Anna’s first visit to their nation’s capitol an unqualified success. Every day for three days, we took the Metro into DC and rode the “TourMobile” around town, jumping on and off to see the sights:
Day One: monuments.
most impressive, per Lily/Anna: Lincoln and Vietnam, tied.
Day Two: museums.
most interesting: Natural History and Spy, tied.
most moving: Holocaust, especially “Daniel’s Story”.
Day Three: Capitol Building and clean up (Mint, Union Station, Ford’s Theater.
Mount Vernon took up most of Day Four. Lots of giggling and little sleep that last night with 11-year old cousin Maeve.
Final stop, Falmouth, Massachusetts. We flew to Providence, where dear old friend Kathy met us and drove us to her Cape Cod beach house for a lovely wind-down of days chasing wild bunnies in her garden, nights around her fire pit toasting marshmallows for s’mores.
These two trips have been special for the three of us. Two weeks away from parents and home is a long time in the life of a kid. The girls often thank me and reminisce about the things we saw and did. I like to think the experiences will be remembered for a lifetime.
I know I cherished the few occasions when I had my grandmother to myself. Most of the time, a dozen of us cousins descended on her Wisconsin lake house for weekend get-togethers, so nobody could be singled out from the herd. One time, though, I was allowed to sleep over. I spent the night in a bed in Grandma’s attic, my pigtails buried in giant feather pillows. The next morning, she made us soft-boiled eggs and served them in yellow porcelain egg cups, along with toast that she placed on one of her good china plates. I felt grown up, special, as we tapped open our eggs and chatted in her breakfast nook. May my granddaughters’ memories of me and our special times be as vivid and treasured.