What’s Missing?


Anything Grandma and I did together was fun, but the “What’s Missing?” game was one of my favorites. After dinner, we went into the living room and sat on one of the 1960’s style flat brown couches that I thought were UGLY then, but have recently come back into vogue.
She laid a variety of tiny items in front of me: a pearl earring, a spool of thread, a tiny dancer broken off the inside of a music jewelry box, a building block, a collector’s spoon, a nickel. Every time we played, she chose different items, but it was always fascinating for me.  Next to the little assortment, she had an old, black clutch purse with the little brass clasp on top that you had to pinch to undo. My four-year-old fingers weren’t strong enough, but that didn’t matter. She could do that part. Let the game begin!
“Angel, are you ready? Close your eyes. No peeking!”
“Can I open them?”
“Not yet. Be patient…OK, now! What’s missing?”
I concentrated, trying to figure out which of her little trinkets she had hidden in the purse. “The ballerina?”
“What else?”
“The money?”
Grandma smiled her warm, wide, beautiful smile at me. She clicked open the clutch and dumped the tiny dancer and nickel back onto the couch. “You’re such a smart girl, Angel.”
We took turns for a long time–I could have played all night. I suppose at some point she grew tired of it, but never let on. She just smiled and asked, “Would you like some ice cream?”
“Yay! Can I have the special hard chocolate?”
“Of course.” She scooped the ice cream into a small bowl and I got to be big and pour the Magic Shell chocolate on top and watch it freeze. I loved how it broke when I pressed my spoon into it. I ate my ice cream and played with her little white china cats and kittens while she watched “Dallas” on the big console TV, and then it was time to get ready for bed. Daddy and Mommy would pick me up in the morning.
I’d forgotten my toothbrush, so she put a little bit of toothpaste on my finger and told me to rub it all over my teeth and she let me use her WaterPik to squirt and rinse my mouth. That thing was SO NEAT!
Then we went into her room and knelt down at the bed. We said the “Our Father” and asked God to bless Mommy and Daddy and all the aunts and uncles and cousins.
Then Grandma put plastic bags over the couch cushions “just in case” and covered it with a sheet and laid out an afghan and a pillow for me. She tucked me in with a kiss and a hug and we said goodnight. A few minutes later, I wanted a drink of water so I went to her room. There she was, still on her knees at her bedside, with her prayer cards with pictures of Jesus and Mary and angels.
“Can I have a glass of water?”
Ever patient, she took me into the kitchen and gave me an half-pint jelly jar half full of water and then tucked me back into bed. “Pleasant dreams, Angel.”
I fell asleep, and I’m sure I dreamed pleasant dreams because I was wrapped up in so much love.
My children love the “What’s Missing” game now and playing with them brings back such fond memories. I’d be lying if I told you it doesn’t bring tears, too. They’re flowing as I write this. Grandma died that next October at 63 years old. Now, when I play with my kids on my brown couch and look up at her picture that hangs on my living room wall, I hear her ask, “What’s missing?”
And all I can answer is, “You.”


4 thoughts on “What’s Missing?

  1. Emily Williams

    I love this, such a sweet remembrance of your grandma! I remember going to that house with you and your mom, feeding the horse 🙂


    • Thank you, Emily. She was very special. Like your Grandma J!
      You and I and your brother C. had such good times together growing up. I’m thankful to have you as friends.

      We had the horse, Candy, until I was in college. Mom couldn’t bear to watch the end for Candy when the time came. She’d had her since she (Mom) was only 13 years old. So, she sold her while I was away at school to an older woman who bought Candy for her grandson to ride. I didn’t agree with her decision, but it was her horse, not mine. I was sad that I didn’t get to say goodbye. 😦


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