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July 11, 2016
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I don’t know if you know, but I have a great-godmother. Her
name is Harriet and this summer will bring her ninety-second year.
The first time I met her, she brought
a book of crossword puzzles for me. Imagine that,
a game meant for logophiles given to a young child! But I did them to the
best of my ability and in all the times after that I looked at the book,
I never once looked at the answers on the back. She watched her four adult daughters
and one grand-goddaughter play
mad libs for the rest of the afternoon.
Last summer, I visited Great-Godmother Harriet
at the nursing home. Everyone thought it would be the last time.
But she recognized me. She was not articulate most of the time, but my godmother
Linda said, “Mom? Emily’s growing up so fast, isn’t she?”
And Harriet, the woman who escaped Nazi Germany and was so
exquisite in her youth, she said, “Oh no, don’t do that.” And on
that fine summer day, she said the truth.
How truly terrible it is to grow up.
And, if the circumstances allow, I will visit
my great-godmother Harriet again
this summer for her ninety-second birthday and we’ll do the
same thing we did for her birthday last year. We’ll eat cookies and ice cream and
wheel her around the garden and look at the bumblebees and dragonflies and
none of us will think, “What to say to you?”

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