Post-Crescent column - March 5, 2010
My long oak dining room table holds multiple centerpieces at one time, a mix of handmade and handle-with-care.
Many of them — crafts my 3-year-old daughter Mihret created — we've arranged around a candleholder from my childhood home. A googly-eyed, blue paper octopus with crinkly, curled-up tentacles sits next to two nativity figurines we thought too precious to put away after Christmas. Their neighbors are a glittery pumpkin and a Mother's Day vase containing tiny handprint flowers.
The latest addition is a see-through jar of jelly beans with a flower arrangement atop it. The gold lettering on its ribbon is flecking off after several weeks of display, but we can tell it read "Great-Grandpa."
Mihret and her great-grandpa shared special time together in the few years they knew each other. David Dorow, my husband Josh's maternal grandfather, died Feb. 16 in Oshkosh at age 86.
When Great-Grandpa was a boy, he'd visit his grandma and she'd give him a jelly bean or two. He continued that connection with Mihret when we visited his assisted living apartment.
Unsteady on his feet, Great-Grandpa often sat in a recliner. Mihret knew the way to his apartment from the building's front door and she'd race ahead of us, often reaching him first.
She'd climb up on his lap, undeterred by the fits of coughing that had become a fact of his life.
Their exchange was simple. Great-Grandpa's hearing was almost gone, but this time needed no words. Great-Grandpa would reach into the container of jelly beans he always kept on his chair-side table, Mihret would accept the colorful candies from his hand and they'd snuggle together.
At Great-Grandpa's funeral, the flower arrangement and jellybean jar showed up among the other displays of caring. Josh's parents had thought of everything.
Mihret is too young to remember anything but snatches of her time with Great-Grandpa. We hope that when she eats jelly beans, it'll trigger those precious memories.
-By Kara Patterson, Post-Crescent staff writer/www.postcrescent.com