Editor’s Corner: A memorable trip; a world changed forever

It was early March and the last of the daylight was fading fast. Each of us had a small hand tucked into one of our own. My husband and our grandson walked a little ahead; my granddaughter and I lagged a bit behind, and we were fine with that. We were chatting amiably and observing, and there was so much to see on the streets of Brooklyn: the shops, the cute brownstones, lots of people out walking their dogs.  

But then it seemed the number of people out walking grew sparse, and we realized we had lost our bearings. We thought we had been heading in the right direction toward a Mexican restaurant their dad had recommended, a proposition that seemed appealing to us as well as to the kids. I was trying to remember the name of the restaurant. Didn’t it start with a C? I tried to search on my phone, but the battery was dying. My husband had left his own phone back in our daughter’s apartment to charge. 

For just a moment, I thought of Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities,” in which a wrong turn in New York City proved fateful. But then I looked up to see my husband chatting amiably with a benevolent stranger, a woman who walked us back to a main thoroughfare and to an Italian restaurant we happily accepted in substitution of the planned Mexican fare. The waiter charged my phone, brought us wine and large plates of pasta. 

The next morning, we were at the sweet little school our grandchildren attend, where all the classmates refer to their teachers by their first names. On this, the morning that grandparents were invited to visit, the first-grade teacher, Karen, had placed paper quilt patterns at each student’s place, so we grandparents could join in the creation of colored-pencil creations. Karen said she would later join all the patterns together to make one big quilt. My granddaughter and I concentrated intently because we both enjoy that kind of thing. We sat side by side in plastic chairs that had tennis balls inserted on the bottom of each metal leg and focused on drawing colorful triangles, swirls, polka dots. 

 My husband, meanwhile, was visiting our grandson’s class, where the kindergarten teacher, Lorraine, had taught her 5-year-old charges to sing a sweet rendition of “The Rainbow Connection, the theme from the 1979 “The Muppets Movie” written by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher. 

I am missing Brooklyn these days. It occurs to me that we visited there, returned home after a really quick but memorable trip, and then the world changed forever.  

In an attempt to help them cope with the logistics of that monumental change, our grandchildren have visited with us in North Carolina and then with their other grandparents in Indiana, waiting out the time when the doors of their school, shuttered for now, will open again. 

 For now, the words to “The Rainbow Connection” seem particularly poignant to me, and I’m wondering if Karen the teacher ever managed to have time to piece those paper quilt squares together. 

 And I’m appreciating the kindness that so many people have toward each other these days, from people serving plates of food to schoolchildren, to sewing masks for healthcare workers, to brightening each other’s lives with chalk driveway drawings. 

All those benevolent strangers out there, showing all of us lost souls the pathway back home.