Not too long ago, my family was in town visiting. We went to nearby Cook Park, where Peeper stared at someone blowing bubbles. While she and my dad watched, Peeper learned the word and repeated it the rest of the afternoon.
“Buh-buh,” she said, walking around the playground. “Buh-buh, buh-buh.”
Later that night, my dad told me that the last thing my Grandma Ryan—his mom—did before she died was sing. She was lying back in bed and before her last breath left her, she sang the old Don Ho hit “Tiny Bubbles.” She had a gorgeous songbird’s voice, though I have no memory of it.
A few weeks later, we joined my parents in Central Oregon for a few days. My dad brought an industrial-sized bottle of bubbles he’d made a special trip to the store to buy.
We stood among the ponderosa pines and watched as Peeper was mesmerized by the bubbles Grandpa Shempy blew for her. They surrounded us, Peeper rushed to touch them and they floated away on the dry air. Then Grandpa Shempy dipped the wand, took a breath and let fly another cloud of bubbles.
“More, more,” she signed whenever he paused. “Buh-buh!”
My Grandma Ryan died decades before Peeper was born, but I like to think that had they ever met, she would have crooned lullabies and classics and Christmas songs and jingles and silly made-up verses to her great-granddaughter in her lilting soprano, the memory of which still brings tears to my dad’s eyes.
In the wine
Make me happy
Make me feel fine
Make me warm all over
With a feeling that I’m gonna
Love you till the end of time