My Mariah

by Arthur W. Anderson

Surprise! Sunday morning the phone rang. It was for me. A sweet, romantic voice cried out, “AHT!” (Art). It softened me. Was this some long-forgotten sweetheart? Nope! It was the voice of my lovely three-year-old great-granddaughter, “Mariah.” I felt the heavy weight of my years drop off. Our brief chat reassured her that we would meet in church. Mariah is a biracial little girl with the most beguiling black curls.

She surprises us with her prowess in the kitchen. Pursuing the way the grandmothers do things—like making coffee, cookies, or muffins, she is gaining the knack of doing these things herself. She is a whiz at setting the table and seating each of us—though she goes too far when I can’t have my spot near the window! I think the kitchen is one place where I can exercise my liberty!

Mariah talks incessantly, and often ends up with a, “WHY?” My muse tells me she will end up in the White House some day. She certainly knows where to go to get what she wants. At our house, She knows her way around. If she can’t reach certain items, she may ask for help, otherwise, she gets it herself. When she stays overnight, she heads for the bottom of the fridge and serves the three of us ice cream cones (take your pick, butter pecan or mint). I am thankful that my desk, magazines, books, and artifacts no longer need protection. She gets wiser everyday.

She sports irrepressible energy. When we take her into a restaurant, she greets everyone. Sooner or later, she knows everybody—the manager, the waitresses, waiters, and busboys. If you need a glass of water, she’ll see that you get it. At a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, she collected something green from several customers including hats, necklaces, sparklers, etc. How blessed we are to keep company with such a delightful toddler!

She has a little tiger in her, too and she can be obstinate. Take the night at our daughter and son-in-law’s home when we were primed for the football game between Ohio State and Florida State—the game of the year! Mariah soon discovered that we were not there primarily to play games with her. So early on, at a tense point in the game, she marched straight to the button and shut it off. Since we didn’t really get the point the first time, she shut it off again. I envisioned a little off-field brouhaha right there. Our hosts, however, knew how to handle it with great poise. Later in the week I read the little children’s book on tantrums to her. She got the point, but was too cool to let it bother her. Weeks later, I read a piece about Einstein in which the writer said that his family was plagued with the tantrums of Albert in his childhood. Could there be a connection?

Our families got together this past Christmas and the children started playing a game. At the game’s most active point, Mariah decided to disrupt it. One of the adults removed her from the game, and put her on the bed nearby. She was angry and cried. After ten minutes or so, I saw her standing with the saddest look imaginable watching the kids playing the game. Her look got to me. I went to her and put my arms around her and said, “They all still love you, and want you to come back and play with them.” She did. I was glad and I remembered my own experiences as a child.

I like to brag about our grandchildren—Kendra, Hanna, Luke, Eric, and Mariah. Each one is unique and has wonderful gifts. It is special to sit down with each one of them, and I am honored to be photographed with any one of them.

When I graduated from the University of Miami some 60 years ago there were few inter-racial relationships. This is no longer so. When we travel in the deep south we have seen many mixed couples. Years ago this would not have been so, but there is still enough of the virus latent in our society that could hurt someone like My Mariah. God bless her!

One day, while sitting on the potty, Mariah called to her Nana and said, “Nana, Jesus is in my heart!” What better news would one want to hear? Her compassion, love, tenderness, and unlimited generosity are truly her “fruits of the spirit.” Minutes after being disciplined, she will come and say, “I love you! Wanna play?”—teaching me again that unless you become like a little child you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Thank you, Mariah!