Memi and Me
Grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher,
and a little bit best friend…
In memory of Rose, my grandmother. She always
knew and was always there—
Copyright © 2014 Lisa Rose Bauer
All rights reserved.
ISBN 13: 9781495202766
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014900943
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
North Charleston, South Carolina
“Poppy?” Sophia paused. “Will everything be the
same as last summer? Things look the same.”
“Not sure, missy, I’m just not sure,” said Poppy as
he tousled his granddaughter’s curly hair.
Sophia and her grandfather walked in silence on
the shell path leading toward the beach cottages. Every
summer one grandchild was invited to stay at Poppy and
Memi’s cottage before the rest of the family, the cousins,
aunts, and uncles, all arrived a few days later. This year
it was Sophia’s turn. But she wished more than anything
that it wasn’t. She heard her parents’ car tires crunch
over the cracked oyster shells on the long driveway behind
her. Until Monday. That’s a long time. She turned
over her shoulder and saw Mom’s arm waving out of the
car window. She almost let go of Poppy’s hand and ran
back toward them. But she kept holding on.
“Your friend Thomas and his family will be here late
tonight I hear. I am sure you’ll spend time exploring like
you two always do,” said Poppy.
“I guess so.” At least something will be the same,
Thomas and his family had been vacationing
at the same beach cottages for as long as Sophia
and her family. Thomas and Sophia were summer
friends. She looked forward to seeing him every year.
Just past a cluster of slender white birch trees, Poppy
and Memi’s cottage came into sight. It still looked the
same, bleached and weathered white with a bold and
bright periwinkle front door. A basket of colorful petunias
spilled over in greeting as if to say welcome, welcome.
“Poppy, can’t we walk to the beach first? I don’t
want to go in yet. Not without Memi. I think I’ll stay on
the porch instead. Yep, that’s what I will do, stay here
on the porch,” Sophia said as she plopped right there on
“It’s OK. Yes, let’s just sit here for a while. And anyway,
I want to give you something,” Poppy said as he
walked into the cottage, the screen door slamming after
Sophia sat restlessly on the lopsided front step. She
looked around to confirm that everything really did look
the same. Tessie’s garden in the next yard over the little
fence was brimming again with fat, red tomatoes, heavy
to be picked. Just like last summer. Mr. Reuben’s little
fishing boat rested in its same spot in the yard across
the street. Poppy came back outside and placed a brown
package next to Sophia on the uneven step.
“Here you go, this is for you,” Poppy explained
while backing down the steps to stand on the stone pathway
to the cottage.
“What is it, Poppy? It’s not my birthday or Christmas.”
Sophia looked puzzled.
“You will see. You will see. Open it whenever you’d
Sophia picked up the box and shook it just a bit. She
did not hear anything except for a slight little jangle.
Sophia sat next to the wrapped package for a long time.
The afternoon sun started to descend toward early evening.
Memi used to call late afternoon that time of day.
She described the sunlight as gorgeous, lush, and surreal.
Memi would close her eyes and take in a big giant
inhale of salt air and wind and laughter from the beach.
When the sun fell behind the little cove across the
street, Sophia lifted the box and placed it on her lap.
She tore the thick brown paper away from the box and
then lifted the lid. She reached in her hand and plowed
through the packing hay with her fingers. She felt a
smooth, cool surface and again heard a light rattle and
clank. Sophia scooped down to the bottom with one hand.
With the other hand she guided the gift up through the
straw-like nest. As she pulled it up, there it was like a
treasure from a happier time. A china teapot. One of
Memi’s lovely teapots.
Sophia lightly touched the soft
blue pansies delicately painted on the plump “belly”
of the teapot. Then she dug into the bottom of the box
again, hoping there’d be something else there. Knowing
there’d be something else. At the bottom of the box she
felt tissue paper with a softness tucked inside it. Before
she even fished it out, Sophia knew, she knew. With a
quick yank she pulled up the package. The tissue unfolded
and out spilled the cornflower-blue calico apron.
Sophia grabbed up the apron and held it just beneath her
nose and breathed in deep and full. She heard Memi’s
voice in her head saying, Here you go, child, you wear
the apron. Let’s make some bread. And while it’s baking
we can pull down the jar of buttons…
Sophia remembered that while the bread was baking
Memi would pull down an antique preserve jar filled
with buttons of all shapes and colors and sizes. Memi
would shake the jar like a maraca on her way back to
the table with all the buttons swishing a cha-cha-cha.
Among them a red caboose, a white daisy, a green turtle,
an antique copper button. Memi spilled the buttons
across the table top and the two made up stories about the
clothing the buttons once were sewed to and about the
people who wore them.
What were their names?
Where did they live?
What did their dresses and coats look
When the baking timer went off, Memi and Sophia
would scoop up the dozens and dozens of buttons and
move the jar to the center of the table as a centerpiece.
Sophia would watch Memi pull the loaf of bread from
the oven and place it on the countertop. Never a small
slice; Memi always carved a big first chunk and brought
the china plates to the table. The butter and strawberry
jam oozed together. Memi poured hot tea from one of
her china teapots and the two sipped tea and talked and
The memory made Sophia smile, but also feel a little
sad. She gently shook the teapot and heard a light
chinking from inside. She pinched the knob of the lid
and slowly lifted it and peeked in. There nested in the
belly of the teapot were Memi’s little things. An antique
brass key. A piece of sapphire sea glass. A mother-of-pearl
button. A little glass ladybug. Sophia reached in
and carefully scooped up the little things. She held them
at eye level on her outstretched palm and remembered.
Each morning Memi pulled the teapot from the little
shelf above her kitchen sink. She placed it on the
counter. She took down her blue flowered apron from
the peg by the window. Sometimes it looked like Memi
was dreaming as she tied her apron strings in the back
while looking out the window to the ocean, maybe to
another time. And one by one Memi placed each of the
four little things into the front apron pocket. Always the
same. Every day.