Most of the time I would sit in one of the cushioned wicker chairs and listen to her play and sometimes sing along to songs I had learned as I looked out at my place in the yard being washed clean by the chilly Oregon rains and imagine myself in far away places.
Gamma taught me how to play lots of 'inside' games, we played hide and seek which one of my favorite games, and card games and board games, and we would play together on the long weathery days. She would also spend hours reading stories to me out of big books with colorful pictures and with great pride it wasn't long before I was able to read some of the stories to her.
My mother was hardly home, and Gamma and I spent the better part of that year alone in each other's company. I later learned that my mother had been very busy working and attending school to become a nurse, and as much as I loved and missed my mother I am still grateful for the time that I spent alone with Gamma.
There were many times when Gamma's friends would come to visit and on sunny warm days they would sit and drink bitter punch and talk and laugh. That's when it was easy for me to slip out of sight so that I could go play in the back of the yard with my friends after dark.
This is how most of the year slipped on, mother working at building us a new life away somewhere else and Gamma and I playing games and doing our own thing in our own places in the big house with the big yard.
Right before Christmas, our entire house was full with decorations and everything appeared to be alive with excitement. There were three ornamented Christmas trees, I was astonished at the prospect of getting three visits from Santa and having three Christmas mornings all on one day, that was also the very day that my Gamma taught me her secret to baking her special cookies.
I watched her add things and measure other things and stir the mix so carefully until she said it was time. She had a large stoneware jar with a wide cork topper plugging the opening that she kept up on the highest shelf in the kitchen.
She pulled it down and I could read that on the front on this well worn jar had been painted the word, 'Love'. I traced the letters with my finger and sounded out each letter until it made a word in my mouth. I looked at her and she winked back.