I was 3 when we moved next door to Don and Grace Nelson. I introduced myself to Grace by standing on the border of our properties, hands on hips and declaring, “Keep off our properly!” That same feisty take no prisoners attitude is reflected in this photo of me at 4 aiming my cap gun at any intruders. (And no, playing with toy guns had no negative effect on me. Neither did smoking candy cigarettes. I neither open carry a gun nor do I smoke.)
Grace was a Godsend to me from ages 3 to 8 when we moved away. I wrote earlier about the box of Ritz Crackers she stored on its side in a low drawer so I could help myself to them. I lived in a “snack-free” house, and having access to those crackers was a real treat.
What I can know now is that Grace always welcomed me into her house whenever I walked over. That welcoming smile touched a deep place in me, though I wouldn’t have reflected on it when I was a small child. Only in retrospect can I identify Grace as a key “cookie person” providing attention and love on a regular basis to a little girl who needed and appreciated both.
Grace also introduced me to sewing on a sewing machine. Her patience was epic, and she sewed doll clothes for me as I “helped” her sew. I have sewn throughout my adult life, and I owe Grace a debt of gratitude for starting me out on my craft.
Grace disappeared from my life when we moved. Again, I thought it had to do with me and felt quite abandoned. When I located her 20 years ago, she told me she had wanted to keep in contact, but my parents didn’t allow it. Knowing she hadn’t deserted me healed a spot I had carried for a long time. Thanks for your persevering love, Grace.