Searching for a special connection

By Tammy Keith Published September 24, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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I’m trying to figure out what my special “thing” will be with Kennedy, my 4-month-old granddaughter.

When I was visiting her a couple of weeks ago, my son jokingly said, “If you wash her bottles, she’ll love you best.” (Guilt is an inherited trait in our family.)

That led to a discussion about what our “thing” would be. My daughter-in-law said her parents would probably take Kennedy hiking because they love to do that. “You can take her … shopping,” my DIL said.

Materialistic Mimi. Great.

When we were in Jonesboro last weekend with my parents, brother and his family, my mother was talking to Kennedy, who was sitting on the couch looking like a 9-month-old. Mom did her song with Kennedy.

“Who’s big baby doll are you?” she sang as she clapped her hands. “Grand-mom-ma’s! Grand-mom-ma’s!” When I said, “Mimi’s,” I got told real fast: “No, that’s my thing. You can have your thing,” by my mother, aka Grandmomma, Great-Grandmomma or Great-Gran, as she has recently adopted.

My mother came up with that little trick when my 27-year-old son, Kennedy’s daddy, was born. All four grandsons know it by heart and are required to answer in a sing-song voice on demand, even now.

She also gave back rubs, and my older son once said, “Grandmomma, your hands feel like velvet.”

Her mother, my Nano, and I had our things, too. We ate apple slices while we watched The Lawrence Welk Show or The Carol Burnett Show, my favorite. At bedtime, we slept in twin beds, shoved together, so I could sleep close to her. She made my mashed potatoes lumpy, like I liked them. To relax me, she would take her finger and trace around my eyes and nose and mouth. She rocked me, even after I was a few inches taller than she was.

My dad, PawPaw, used to put candy on the counter for my older son when he was a little boy and let him discover it. My son would come into their house and go straight to the kitchen, stretching on his tippy-toes to see the surprise that was there. He helped PawPaw in the garden in the summers and got rides in the little red wagon.

Our sons’ other grandmother had a special cabinet with stacks of games, some worn and torn from being well-loved and enjoyed, and a closet of toys, some of which my husband played with as a boy. She loved to read books to them, too, and go on picnics. My father-in-law, Granddad, had the farm, a barn and cows to visit.

He also took his grandchildren on his knee and sang, “This is the way the farmer rides …,” bouncing them faster and faster through the verses. (My husband occasionally tries that with kids, but his legs are so skinny, it’s hard for the kids to stay on.)

When our second son was born, I quit working full time and freelanced until he started to kindergarten. I was not the creative, imaginative mom. I loved to read to them, but I can barely use scissors.

In desperation to do something they’d remember, I started making ABC pancakes. I’d pour the batter in the shape of my sons’ first initials, and sometimes I’d do this for their friends.

I mentioned this when we visited our younger son in Kentucky over Labor Day weekend.

“I remember that; that was cool,” he said. Score!

This past week, I went to visit Kennedy. I gave her a bath, read her some books and put her to bed. As she lay there in the dark, I traced her face with my finger, and she was perfectly still.

When she’s older, I’ll make her a pancake in the shape of a “K.” We’ll figure out our special thing.

Then we’ll go shopping.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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