I recall with great fondness many childhood visits to my grandparents' homes, spread hither and thither across Newfoundland. Each summer my parents would pack up the family car and we'd head out on our annual road trip. As we would approach my mother's childhood home, my sisters and I would crane our necks to compete to be the first to catch a glimpse of "Nan's house". It was always a surprise to see what amazing colour the house would be. My grandfather would paint the house almost every year, and always with a different colour. Purple, grey, green, blue... it was always a happy sight.
As we pulled into the driveway, my Nan would be standing in the doorway with her hands folded across her ample chest, anticipating our arrival. We would be greeted with large, soft, warm hugs and those wet grandmother kisses. I always marvelled at the softness of Nan's skin as her bare arms wrapped around my skinny childish frame. It was cushiony to the touch. Thinking back now, it reminds me of how a tiny, plump baby feels against your bare skin. Such a familiar, comforting sensation.
During my most recent visit with my mother, I noticed how the years are beginning to show their effects on her physical appearance. She's become conscious of the shape of her arms and how the skin there is losing its elasticity. Later that day as she was preparing to leave, I took my mother into my arms and held her just a little longer than usual. My mother may see an old woman with flabby wings; I see that softness that comes with a grandmother's hug.