by Vera Grant AMMM Ireland 09.03.2022
It wouldn’t have been hard to identify the grandparents waiting at the school gate. We stood apart, not knowing one another and wrapped up warmly with masks intact. The young mothers near us with babies in slings or in prams were bare footed in their ankle length leggings. The babies were jogged up and down or idly pushed in their prams as the mothers stood in small clusters, chatting and laughing.
I watched expectantly for the classroom door to open and the children to appear. I was hoping that I could quickly identify her as she liked me to wave and I didn’t want to be waving to the wrong child. The girls all seemed to have long hair, tied back and more than one had the same coat so it wasn’t always easy.
There she was, running ahead from the line of children, her hair, released from its clips whipped over her face and still she ran. Her excitement was tangible as she hopped from foot to foot, waiting her turn for the teacher to release her, ‘that’s my granny, that’s Vee, she’s here for me.’
She is Juliet, 6 years old, and had been the youngest grandchild until her mummy had a new baby last September. Her energy is like the tide, ebbs and flows, but today it was in full flow as the words tumbled out, ‘Vee, they are growing, you can see them.’
I waited, not really knowing what she was talking about. ‘Vee, do you remember the seeds we planted?’ I didn’t get time to say or ask anything as she continued, ‘they have green tops and the lupins have leaves. Do you want to come and see them?’
Together we walked home, hand in hand which isn’t always the norm as, like all 6-year-olds, Juliet can have her moments, but today her world was shining bright.
However that same world was not shining so bright elsewhere. Before leaving the house, I had read of the Ukrainian woman confronting a heavily armed Russian soldier and, taking Sunflower seeds from her pocket, she handed them to him, saying, ‘Take these seeds and put them in your pockets so at least Sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.’
How I wished for the innocence of Juliet and not for the wisdom and insight of the unknown Ukrainian woman who wished for peace in her own country, but her only hope was that the Russians would be defeated and the small country like the Sunflower seeds would survive and grow again.