I was grumbling over a big lot of unsorted mail tonight when my daughter, who'd been playing nearby took an interest.
"Wow Daddy, you've got a lot of mail," my daughter said looking at the great mounded pile of mail appraisingly.
As she said this, I was oddly reminded of rolling grape leaves with my grandmother when I was a boy. I think it was something about the monotony and the endlessness of the task and the quiet of the night. I could almost hear my grandmother's voice from over her bowl of salted water and jar of leaves and pot of lamb and rice. I'm not sure I ever helped my grandmother that much, but I liked being around her, and somehow she got me to do this with her and kept me out of trouble.
I was less patient with my daughter.
"I guess so," I said a little grumpily. I wasn't in much of a mood to discuss the project.
I went back to sorting and grumbling.
But my daughter was not content just to look and kept taking small unnoticed envelopes of different shapes and sizes to put into her backpack, and in her lunch box and in her brother's carriage and in her room - I found a small rats nests of them all over after she'd gone to bed.
Her task was made easier by the near constant attention that her brother demanded throughout the evening.
"Eeehhh!" he kvetched all night. Both my kids had the flu shots yesterday and my son developed a small cold as a result. He's been very cranky.
When I got back from settling him again in his crib, I found my daughter cherry picking the brightly colored envelopes from the mail (no red or pink ones gratefully).
"No cuttie," I said reprovingly, "Daddy needs that!"
I took the electric bill she'd been stuffing under the couch and put it back on the table.
She looked a little hurt, but kept her cool. She put down her knapsack and looked up at me steadily.
"Daddy," she said very calmly, "You need to share."
I was a little taken aback but, honestly, what could I say.
I shrugged my shoulders sheepishly. I pulled down an empty shoe box from the closet and gave her such junk mail as looked interesting and would not be missed.
She sat on the floor with her box and made little talk to it as she opened and placed and replaced the envelopes. She was happy.
"Goodnight Daddy," she said unexpectedly after a time, "I'm taking my mail to show to my bear."
She went up the stairs and settled down and slept. I was surprised and delighted. I certainly hadn't earned that good behavior.
I wonder sometimes when things like this happen if the good spirit of my grandmother is nearby, watching out for me, helping me, nudging me in the right direction. I don't mean in some kind of spooky halloween way, or in a good spirit of the well way, but just the occasional visit to lend a hand way.
There's no way to know, of course, but it helps somehow to think of her there.