By DAVID GREEN
It was like a major storm system traveled north up the Mississippi Valley, veered east and hovered over Kentucky while building strength, then started moving northward once again until it unleashed its fury as it crossed the Ohio-Michigan border.
Hurricane Caroline had arrived—22 months of intense energy walking in the front door of our house. Her motto: Leave no container unopened.
My granddaughter arrived shortly after Christmas for a five-day stay and we're still putting the pieces back together. Watch your step as you enter my bedroom. There are still some marbles here and there. Hey, what are you doing in my bedroom?
During the course of her visit, someone said something like, "She loves her granddad. He lets her do anything." Now wait, that's clearly a misrepresentation. I took away the straight pin that she found. I didn't let her handle knives. She would never be allowed to climb the stairs alone. Wait a minute, she did do a solo climb, but I wasn't on duty.
To put it more accurately, she allows me to do anything. I'm the one who's willing to empty the bowl of marbles onto the floor for the fourth time, maybe the fifth time. It's my duty.
She made an advancement with the marbles during this visit. She discovered the joy of putting them one by one back into the bag, but she was always too quick for me. At one point she always grabbed the bag and turned it upside down. Marbles everywhere. That's what she likes; not the orderliness of containment in a bag.
It's the same routine over and over. She takes your hand and starts walking until something catches her eye. Often it's a short walk to the low set of shelves where there are four containers. I'm sure she knows what's inside each one by now, but she must open them and dump the contents over and over.
The blue one contains miniature colored pencils that read "Jungle Safari." There's also a metal tin of Black Cat Impregnated Safety Matches, but actually it's full of tiny hearts glitter.
The purple container is stuffed with embroidery floss. It's becoming a mess because she loves to remove the label holding each set together. I showed her how a roll of floss makes a perfect drooping mustache. I hold mine in place by scrunching up my upper lip. She uses a runny nose for hers.
The pink container holds Elmer's Glue and rubber stamps. The multi-colored tin contains various paper products, including an unfinished thank you card started by Caroline's mother many years ago: Dear Balls, Thank you for the....
Her biggest find on this visit was the bin under the buffet holding old camera boxes and other miscellaneous items. Of course I allowed her to open each box and meticulously remove every instruction booklet, warranty statement, plastic bag, instructional CD. It's what she loves the most and there was no reason for us to keep this stuff. Bring in the recycling bag.
There's still clean-up to do following the storm. We haven't reassembled the Russian doll within a doll within a doll. I know there are marbles and other items on my bedroom floor. But if some of it is left around, it's like she might suddenly appear to spread it around a little more.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the many injuries Caroline endured while under my care when we last I saw her. This time I must admit that I was on duty—trying to eat lunch, actually—when she spun around, got dizzy and fell against the handle on the freezer door. She left Morenci with a trace of that one still showing.
I was close by when the lazy susan cupboard grabbed her fingers. I couldn't get there fast enough, but I think she might have decided to stay away from that. And yes, I was the one who shut her fingers in the door. I didn't know she was there.
She doesn't seem to blame me for these transgressions, at least not at the time. The day she went away I had an odd wound on the bridge of my nose. I don't remember how it happened, but I do recall being struck by flying objects from time to time. I think she's striking back.