Cave-like, the basement room, in my son’s and daughter-in-law’s Ottawa home, is pitch black and cold, as day breaks on a January morning. Awakening, I use my iPhone to check the time and provide some light. I ease out of the snug bed, gather my clothes, judiciously arranged the night before, and, mindful of my husband, Ed, still asleep, tread softly to the bathroom, to wash and dress. The washroom is cold and small. I turn on the auxiliary electric heater, struggle to find a place for my clothes and toiletries and heat up the shower water. The spray pelts and revives my body, shaking the sleepiness away. Reluctantly, I turn off the water and dress in the still chilly bathroom.
Anticipating that first cup of morning coffee, I proceed, like a thief, up the unlit stairs, to the first floor of a silent house. I greet Puma, the cat, and she tolerates me, a mildly acceptable stand-in for her real caregivers. I prepare my breakfast in the quiet, neat kitchen and arrange my reading material as the early, morning light diffuses into the dining room, illuminating the large wooden table and the shelving unit crammed with books, board games and knickknacks. I munch on some toast spread with smooth peanut butter and read the news; all the while, anticipating.
There are a few stirrings above, on the second floor. Steps move about from one room to another. Silence pervades again. Suddenly, my daughter-in-law’s footsteps sound, coming down the stairs. As would a magician, she bestows to me a bundle, smiles, and vanishes back to the coziness of her bed. My arms enfold the small offering; I smell the sweet scent of innocence, feel the soft, silky skin of my grandson and my heart fills.
Simone Rotstein’s grandchild lives in Ottawa with his parents.
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