Back during the summers of my youth, time was spent in the company of my maternal grandmother. A woman who was my name-sake, though not related to me by blood. A women who was so unbelievably old as to have come of age in a bygone era, that which had since been swept clear from the margins of relatability.
Summers with her were spent white-washing the fences and out-buildings and sweeping out-of-doors, which I admit, we rather enjoyed. There was always a welcoming, “We dood it!” accompanying her smiling face when the tasks were completed. There was always time to take in a particularly welcomed picture show or to play with toys that seemed older than time immemorial. Curious things made out of tin and fur, springs, sprockets and gizmos.
There were also plenty of things that my grandmother would declare to be ‘keen’ or ‘neat’; like making homemade playdough or helping her to whip up a batch of thimble cookies, or to line dry the fresh laundry.
There were also trips to the park, forays in the art museum where she volunteered, and lots of walking. Another word my grandmother loved to use was ‘treat’. It was a treat to go to the picture show. It was a treat to see a sunset. It was a treat to stroll through the downtown in the early morning. Most people do not use the term treat. They may say they would like to ‘treat’ themselves to something or that they will treat others to something, but they rarely, if ever, refer to an actual item as a treat, without also mentioning that it is also somehow a reward.
However, during these summer visits, there would be an afternoon walk from her house, down the train tracks, past my long deceased grandfathers old business, to a corner market. It was a very old and run down sort of building. The walls were covered in wooden boards with remnant layers of advertisement signs from decades past. It was very small and rather cramped as we shoved our way inside towards a clear topped chest freezer. The intent was her desire to purchase an orange push up for my sister and I. It was a nice treat on a hot summers day. In the fact that, yes, she was treating us to something, but also that it was just somehow necessary to have a type of cold refreshment and that particular experience as young children.
Every summer I think about her and those promenades for ice cream. The strolls under the trees and the conversations on the way to and from the market which are as much a treat to me as the memory of that ice cream. These thoughts brings me solace now that she is gone as I’m sure that her intentions for a treat was the entire affair and not simply the ‘treat’.