This story is by Kathleen Osborne and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It never ceased to amaze me the energy Audrey, my little granddaughter contained. It seemed boundless.
She was up by six o’clock, playing with her toys in her room, then moved to the living room’s toy box, followed by chattering throughout breakfast while we were eating. Moving through her day as if she was fighting against an unseen force holding her back. Instead, she dove into her activities, letting nothing slow her down. No naps unless you joined her, and even then, you could feel her mind racing in her sleep. If it was a beautiful day with the sun shining, she would be on the jungle gym her dad had built her, then over to their treehouse.
By late morning she had lassoed the sunshine and brought it into the house with her joy and glorious smile. Watching her as her laughter rings out while she climbs on her mini tramp and sings through her favorite song, “The Itsy Bisty Spider,” over and over.
Many times, since I lost Jim, I would come to visit my ‘grands’ with a heavy heart. Yet, being with Audrey, her smile and laughter revived this old heart and totally brightened my day. While Sam’s quietness brought peace to my heart as he built his worlds, so much like his Grandpa.
My attention encouraged Audrey to continue, as her big brother Sam came in to report to me, his Dinosaur Land completely constructed and ready for me to check out.
Taking me by my hands, Sam led me into his room as Audrey’s singing continued to fill the house. Upon entering his room, it took my breath away, Sam had transformed the entire room into a different world. If I hadn’t known there was a bed and dresser in it, I would have said he moved it out. He used blankets to cover things, making it look like the mountains and valleys with rivers.
My knees buckled as the room became a jungle. Sam seemed unaware of the change. He shared about each dinosaur, its everyday name, scientific name, and its characteristics. He also told me when they were on earth and how long they had been extinct. I sat so proud of him. He was only nine. And he understood everything about these creatures beyond what most adults did.
As Sam shared, my gaze started getting distracted from him to his figurines. I thought at first it was a fluke, then I got nervous and wished I had my cell phone in my pocket so I could take a picture. I saw a figurine that Sam had set down after discussing it; it moved. It had turned its head to look at Sam.
Now, I’m not some crazy old lady, old and lady I may be, but not crazy. I tried to keep my eyes on both. Finally, I quit pretending to watch Sam and just watched the animals in fascination. Every single one moved.
After Sam had introduced all the animals, I said, “Honey, have you noticed that they seem to move on their own after you hold them?”
He smiled at me and said, “Yes, Nanna, I know. I can’t remember when it started. Daddy saw it and we talked about it then. I asked him why.… He said it is because we are of the Boundless.”
“And he is so right. Few are of the ‘Boundless’, but anyone can be. Do you understand what I’m saying?” I asked.
“Yes, I do. Daddy said, ‘Only those who know they are Boundless within themselves see and do things like this. Anyone who can’t see like I do they aren’t and won’t ever be Boundless. It is knowing we can be and do anything we can see in with our minds, then we are ‘Boundless’ and miracles like this happen. Telling ourselves we aren’t handsome, or not good enough, then we’ll always be ordinary. There will be no magic,” said Sam.
“You are right. And I couldn’t be any prouder of you. You and your sister are truly ‘Boundless.’ Which makes this family blessed high above all others,” I said with a smile and hugged him tightly.
“But I must warn you,” I said. “This can change. Even I have had a lapse in being Boundless because I my life changed. When you stop believing in the Boundless, you will not be part of it any longer. So, you must set a guard on your mind, don’t let anyone steal your dreams and hopes. Then you will always part of the Boundless.”
Just then there was an abrupt stillness in the house for a few seconds. Audrey had quit singing. I was about to check on her when I heard running feet. Audrey burst through Sam’s door saying, “I have a new game we can play. It is so much fun. You can play it by yourself or with others. Wanna play with me?”
Sam and I said, “How do we play?”
“Ask yourself or someone else this question, ‘What if,,,, ?’ And figure out the answer. Then ask it again, and again. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
“You go first, Audrey?” I said.
With giggles and wiggles turning into deep thought, Audrey asked, “What if I flew to the moon?” Then she turned to me and said, “Nanna, it is your turn to ask about me and the moon.”
“What if you met a man from another planet there?”
We laughed and joked as the questions grew more outrageous as we each took a turn. That’s when we all agreed it sounded like the absolute best game. And started playing again, with Sam starting us off. When their parents came home, we were still playing and laughing so much our sides hurt.
As I got in my car, I could feel the joy of the day leaving me as I thought about going to my empty home. It was like a black cloud suddenly hovered over me. Instead of laughing, I wanted to cry. I couldn’t reach out to that boundlessness I had experienced before. That dark cloud was reaching out to my mind and putting wall ups to keep me away from being boundless. It hurt so bad. All the strands of my life that had tied to being boundless were being severed. I didn’t want this. I wanted my hope and joy back. My dreams of having friends that would join me on adventures-turning us from isolation to involvement in things that built not destroyed.
My thoughts were like a squirrel running on a wheel in a cage, going round and ending up in the same spot. How do I get off this merry-go-round of darkness and despair and back to the boundless? I could feel the tears flowing down my face and dripping on my blouse as I finally said out loud, “No more!”
I fought back that black cloud because I witness something on my drive home. I saw a group of senior people playing in a dog park with their dogs. Everyone was laughing. They were in the now and totally boundless.
That’s when I remembered the game Audrey had taught us. I realized I needed something to help me at home. Another husband wasn’t my answer. When a wild thought ran through my mind what if I got a dog? Before I knew it, I was playing the game. It helped me problem-solve everything about getting a dog, whether I would want a puppy, middle-aged one, or senior; and what kind—something big like a Great Dane or small a teacup Morkie.
As I walk through my front door, the idea had energized me. I hadn’t felt like this since Jim’s passing. There was a solid joy in my heart again. A loud ‘Whooo Hoooo,’ burst out of my mouth, echoing around the room. I realized I was back to being part of the ‘Boundless’ community without the help of the Sam and Audrey.
That’s when I understood that since Jim’s passing, I was only living when I was with my grandchildren. With them, I felt like I was part of that miraculous community and I had forgotten how to get back to it on my own. Thanks to Audrey, I have the key to the world of the Boundless. Which led me to wonder if any of my friends still were members of it? Thinking of their many complaints and tales of woe, I didn’t think they were.
Sitting in my favorite reclining chair, next to my phone and I asked out loud, “What if they were part of the Boundless and everyone at the Senior Center joined too?”
I didn’t have to ask another question… my mind filled with images of the wonderful things we could do. By sharing with others how to be Boundless. Laughter burst forth from me as I picked up my phone, settled deep my chair and called my best friend Mattie, it’s time she learned a new game.