Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Words from a grandma: Even when she’s not here, she’s still here May 17, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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SEVEN RED PLASTIC MONKEYS dangle, their arms linked.



Nearby, six children’s picture books, including one about trains, stack on the worn beige carpet.

Across the living room, a colorful woven basket, purchased for a buck at a garage sale, holds more books, a spiky purple ball, a bag of blocks, a doll with ratty hair and more.

All remind me of my sweet granddaughter, here for an overnight weekend stay. I can still feel the softness of Izzy’s curls, the curl of her tiny hand in mine, the touch of her sticky peanut butter and jelly fingers.

I can still hear her fits of giggles while she watched a toddler just months younger. I can hear her counting—up to six. I can hear her asking for Grandpa to play on the living room floor and later to run with her.

I can see, too, her long legs carrying her up and back down our backyard hill. I can see the outline of her little hands traced onto purple construction paper—wings for the butterfly I helped her craft for her mama. I can see her tossing her uncle’s teddy bears down the long stairway toward my office, the room where she sleeps when she stays.



I can’t taste how she tastes or smell what she smells. But I know Izzy loves strawberries and chocolate and milk by the cupfuls. She drinks from a green cup and eats from a Peter Rabbit plate and bowl at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. She has that certainty of routine and familiarity. And love.

This time with my now two-year-old granddaughter delights me. I want Izzy to understand just how much and how deeply I love her. I would read books to her and wipe her sticky fingers and catch falling teddy bears for her every day if I could.


TELL ME: If you’re a grandparent, what brings you joy in grandparenting? Or tell me what joyful memories you have of your grandparents.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


16 Responses to “Words from a grandma: Even when she’s not here, she’s still here”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I love that you have routines and sameness when that sweet girl visits. The plate and cup and of course the basket of books and toys will be in her memory along with the fun times at your house. I am so happy you could keep her for a weekend and it sounds like you made the most of it. 🙂

  2. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    Over the years I’ve had 3 editions of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. I’ve kept the oldest one – the one that has entertained four generations. Now it’s too tatty to take much more handling. Friday night Miss GD found her Dad’s cootie game in my sideboard. Of course, we had to play it.

    • I love that you, too, have the Peter Rabbit dinnerware and, yes, Cootie, too, to enjoy with your granddaughter. The Peter Rabbit items I use belonged to Izzy’s uncle, I believe. Each of my three children received dinnerware from my godmother, Aunt Rachel.

  3. Murphy's Law Says:

    I hope your granddaughter will have the opportunity to read this post one day. Beautifully written. I have one grandchild, Catherine. She is the love of my life. She is 22 now, and will graduate from college this weekend. I vividly remember the first time I held her, I thought my heart was going to burst from love.

    Before she was born I wrote her a letter telling her how much I already loved her. That went into an album along with similar letters along the way. My own grandparents were not warm, huggy people. They never read me a story or let me sit in their lap or told me they loved me.

    Catherine’s plastic dishes and cup were Winnie the Pooh, but her bedroom was Peter Rabbit. I ‘ve framed two of the finger paintings we did, as well as several projects of C’s. We did all kinds of craft projects over the years. And my lips may be permanently puckered from, “Blow more bubbles grandma”!!

    I miss reading to her and rocking her in my chair and holding her hand on a walk. But I am so proud of the young woman she has become. I miss no opportunity to tell her how much I love her.

    Framed photos of her brighten every wall and surface. My daughter says it’s like a shrine in here. Lol. Suits me just fine!!

    Enjoy these early years with Izzy, they are beyond precious. All the years are precious, but the early years, where a bond is developing, they are truly special.
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

  4. Your post brings back the best memories for me in being my grandma’s shadow. The women in the family are outnumbered by the men, so the granddaughters were close knit with grandma. Luckily as the men married we grew our tribe of women in the family. She had the chair at the ready to stand on to help her cook, the closet with the box of toys, the children’s books on a bottom shelf in the living room . . . I truly miss her, however; I know she is my angel now. What FUN the two of you must have 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy!

  5. estremdj Says:

    Love this!

    Hope she enjoys my picture books too! 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍

  6. Jackie Says:

    It takes me awhile to put the toys away after the grands are here. I even leave their little smudgy hand prints on the windows so that I am reminded of them every time I walk across the house and look out the window. I love to spoil them and hugs them and kiss them on the lips even if they have colds. There is just nothing better in the whole wide world. 🙂

  7. Littlesundog Says:

    What a cute post. I miss my grandparents, but I realize what a joy they were in my life… even when they had something stern and admonishing to share! Ha ha. But mostly, I miss the little things they taught us… things I now realize the importance of. It is the little things – and the setting aside of time for us when they were so busy, that I cherish the most. Like afternoons to watch us perform at the community swimming pool, when I was quite sure they had lots of work to keep up with on the farm.

    Forrest has three grandsons but we are not allowed a relationship with them. Divorce can often separate families, and without communication and a goodwill to work through things, it can take years, decades or sometimes it never happens – to work through the difficulties. I feel for these boys who might never know us, nor to experience this amazing place of nature. There is so much of our own legacy to pass on. I am thankful we do have many nieces and nephews to share that with. There are always kids who come along to pass these things onto… not just family. 🙂

    • I am sorry for you and Forrest, that you are kept from your grandsons. Oh, what love and lessons you could give them. This makes me sad. But you are not alone. Family relationships and situations such as divorce can be difficult.

  8. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    What wonderful memories you are making. I remember staying with both sets of my grandparents. My maternal grandfather’s garden wrapped around the entire yard it was so big. Every time I eat raspberries or peas I think of those times. My other grandparents took me fishing, hunting, camping, and to the race track.

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