In my pocket is a small barrette, bright blue with a pink butterfly. I am taming the explosion of curls that is hers. Looking at her in the mirror, I tell her she looks beautiful. She looks back at me, says, Mmmmmmm. And her eyes flash wide. She jumps off the stepstool and scampers down the hall calling to her Mother to see her hair.
I hold the little one in my arms. She looks at me with fierce and unblinking intensity. Then she cracks her chubby cheeks into a toothy grin and bobs her head at the surprise of it all. She has toes that remind me of champagne grapes. She walks now, but prefers the rapid pace of her crawl. She's a Momma's girl, that one. She'll seek Mom out with a radar the Navy would envy, and when she finds her, she wraps her chubby hands around Mom's legs, pulls herself up to a stand, then throws her arms up, tosses her head back and says, Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
I tell Augusta how strong she is as a mother, how amazing it is to watch her with her children. She hugs me and tells me I am beautiful. She says in my ear how strong I am through my grief.
Last night, my niece and I sat until midnight in the Adirondack chairs on the back porch. We turned all the lights off inside the house, so it would only be us, the darkness and the stars. Lightning bugs played hide and seek through the woods along side of us. We talked as if she were older than her years. She's strong, that one. Hers is a musical, peace-loving soul. She's somewhat rueful she didn't live through the 60s.
I realize how at home I am with these two women. I realize that I know them better than I know anybody.
An afternoon summer storm drifts through the mountains, my windows thrown open to the breeze. I am sleeping in the branches, fat raindrops falling on the leaves, thunder rolling across the mountaintops. A soft rain blankets this house. In a way that is my own, I think I feel it covering with blessings all those within.