Rose Jackson lay back on her lounger and heaved a contented sigh. The sun shone down hot and bright, so bright Rose found herself squinting even through her sunglasses.
A few clouds drifted lazily across the sky and a slight haze dimmed what would otherwise have been a brighter blue. She closed her eyes and after a few minutes felt herself drifting off to sleep, but was roused by the sound of a car approaching on the street and turning into the Jacksons’ driveway.
She contemplated getting up but thought better of it. They’ll find me soon enough she decided, and she was right.
“Grandma!” Little Allison Jackson came dashing around the corner of the house and without giving Rose a chance to prepare herself leaped headlong on top of her grandmother, moving so fast that she was unable to stop herself and rolled completely over the lounger and onto the grass beside it. Rose turned to look at the little girl.
“Hey howdy,” she said. “I am not an obstacle course for you to leap over like some kind of Olympic triathlete my darling. Slow down a little, would ya?”
Allison looked up from her prone position and laughed. “I’m so fast,” she said. “Fifty kilometres probably.”
“Probably,” said Rose. “Too fast for my backyard.”
“Mommy and Andy are coming too,” said Allison, “but they’re slow. Mommy has to get Andy out of his car seat.” Rose was sitting up now and the little girl jumped up and plopped herself into her grandmother’s lap.
“I love you,” she said.
“I love you too Ally,” said Rose. “What brings you to town?”
Allison looked puzzled. “Mommy brought me,” she said. “Who else?”
Rose laughed. “Of course,” she said. “Let me rephrase the question. Why did you come to town?”
“Oh,” said Allison. “Because Mom has to buy groceries. So you have to babysit,” she added.
“Oh really now,” said Rose. “And what if I’m too busy to babysit?”
“Are you busy?” asked Allison.
“Very,” said Rose. “I am very busy doing all sorts of things. I’m lying down. I’m enjoying the sun. I’m trying to have a nap.”
“Did we wake you?” Allison’s mother Jackie had appeared around the corner of the house and was setting young Andy down on the grass. Andy toddled straight over to Rose arms outstretched.
“Gamma!” he said.
“Come on up!” said Rose. There’s always room for one more!” The little one clambered up onto her lap next to his sister while his mother sat down in the Adirondack chair facing Rose. “You didn’t exactly wake me,” said Rose. “Because I wasn’t exactly sleeping.”
“We didn’t mean to disturb you,” said Jackie.
Rose gave her grandchildren a squeeze. “This kind of disturbance I can handle,” she said. “Besides. I had to get up anyway since according to Allison I’m now babysitting.”
“Oh good lord Allison,” said Jackie. “Have I taught you no manners? We don’t tell Grandma she’s babysitting. We ask politely and if she says no, then that’s OK. Do you understand?”
Allison nodded and looked up at Rose. “Please can you babysit while Mommy goes to the store. It’s OK if you can’t. I’ll probably cry though,” she added as an afterthought.
“There’s nothing wrong with a little cry every so often,” said Rose. “But save it for another day. I will babysit for a few hours. And 20 bucks.”
“Done!” said Jackie with a laugh. “I’d give you 30 if you asked!”
“Ah, no worries,” said Rose. “We’ll have fun.” She manoeuvred the two youngsters off of her lap and back onto the grass. “What are you shopping for today?” she asked.
“I have to get a few groceries,” said Jackie, “and I need some summer clothes. Pants and shorts. I’ve finally lost the weight I put on when I was pregnant with this little shyster,” she reached out to tousle Andy’s hair as he headed off in the direction of the sandbox, “so none of my pants fit anymore.”
“Ah I remember those days,” said Rose. “People think it’s expensive buying clothes for your kids but it’s not half what you have to spend on yourself.”
“Well I am deeply grateful to you for looking after the kids,” said Jackie. “Groceries are one thing, but shopping for clothes with the kids is a nightmare.”
“Been there done that,” said Rose. “Say no more.”
“Thank you,” said Jackie.
“Why are you still here Mom?” said Allison peering out from behind the trunk of the nearest oak tree.
“I’m leaving,” said Jackie, getting up.
Rose smiled. “Like I said, we’ll have fun.”
“More fun than I,” said Jackie and she disappeared back the way she had come.