• I stood in the air port and looked around. The terminal was crowded with people coming off and boarding planes to various locations. Couples were embracing after long absences. Children were clinging to parents and crying, begging Daddy not to go on his business trip or Mommy not to send them to Scary Aunt Hilda, who looked like the Wicked Witch of the West.

    I walked toward a Starbucks stand nearby. My legs were stiff from sitting on the plane. It was a long ride from Cleveland to Hawaii and I had never been on a plane before that moment. I ordered my double chocolate chip frappicino with chocolate whipped cream and syrup and sat down, massaging my sore left knee. As I sipped my “liquid candy,” I kept observing the people around me. She had to be here somewhere. She promised she’d meet me. Maybe her plane was delayed, I thought. Maybe she couldn’t get away from wherever she was.

    Suddenly, I heard someone calling my name. I turned and my jaw nearly dropped to the floor. There, in a lovely purple floral dress, stood my grandmother. She looked miraculously younger than when I saw her last. She was healthy and smiling. Her hair was dark, thick, and long with a few streaks of gray and pulled into an elegant looking bun with pretty hair pins to hold stray hairs. It wasn’t thin, short, and silvery white. But, I could tell it was still her by her lovely eyes and that unforgettable and contagious smile, worn so little in the end.

    I stood and raced over to hug her and tripped slightly as I stepped funny on my right ankle and my run turned into a speedy limp. The tears in my eyes were partly from the pain in my foot and the rest from pure joy of seeing my dear grandmother once more. She laughed as I wrapped my arms around me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. She had to stand on her tip toes to do this. She only came to about my shoulders in height.

    “I’ve missed you, too, my love,” she said to me and that caused my tears to flow more and I started to cry in earnest. She took a tissue from her purse and wiped my eyes. “There, there. No time for tears. This is a day to celebrate and have fun and do what we always talked about.”

    I took a deep breath, nodded, and cleaned my glasses. She took my hand and I grabbed my purse and we headed to our taxi, waiting outside. We got inside and Gramm told the driver to head to Pearl Harbor. “I know how much you love history,” she said. “So I thought we would see that first.”

    “Cool!” I exclaimed. This would be the best day ever. In the year we’d been apart, I missed Gramm every minute. She was such a huge part of my life. My parents and sister and I moved in with her when I was eight years old, shortly after my grandfather died. She was always there for me every single day. She told the best stories and we vented our frustrations to each other. This, sometimes, would lead to arguments but not often. We even read some of the same books. She liked romance novels so whenever she finished one, she would give it to me to read. But, I only liked certain ones. My favorite had recently become Nora Roberts.

    “So, tell me how you’ve been!” said Gramm, tapping me on the knee. I winced slightly but tried not to let her see. “You’re back to school?”

    “Yes,” I replied. “I’m just going part time right now. But I’m excited. Two more math classes and I hopefully won’t have to take anymore ever!”

    Gramm laughed. “That’s wonderful, honey. I know how you hated math in school. How’s that boyfriend of yours?”

    At this question, I turned bright red which caused her to burst into her loud, hearty laughter I loved so much and missed hearing. “I’m going to take that as a good sign. He’s a nice boy and I know how he looks at you. I may be old but I am very perceptive about these things. You two are good for each other.”

    We continued our conversation during the long car ride. I didn’t even have an opportunity to take in the sights. She asked about my sister, Samantha, and how she liked attending John Carroll University. She asked how my parents were and how my dad didn’t kill the man who backed into his truck at Church one weekend. I told her about work and our jerk of a store manager whom we’ve nicknamed “Jabba.”

    Before I knew it, we had arrived at Pearl Harbor. We went to the memorial of the USS Arizona and I took many pictures. It was beautiful and eerie at the same time and more amazing in person than on television or in pictures.

    After lunch, our next destination was a beach to spend the rest of the day and watch the sunset. We stopped at a shop nearby and each bought a new dress and I found a shell bead kit and string to make jewelry. Gramm bought a long, dark purple dress with pale purple and white flowers on it. Purple, or “poiple” as she liked to call it to make us laugh when we were kids, was her favorite color. My dress was a long, green halter dress with dark flowers in the same design.

    We picked a spot on the beach that wasn’t too crowded and sat down on our towels in the sand. I began playing with my new bead kit and Gramm sat in silence, reading one of her overly racy romance novels that she loved so much. “Do you know how many of those we found in your room?” I teased. “I think Dad and I counted 120 in boxes at the bottom of your closet.”

    “Really?” she said. “I thought I gave them away. Did you keep any?”

    “No, these were old and falling apart,” I said. “We had to throw them away.”

    After a while of sitting on the beach, I stood up and pulled her to her feet as well. “Let’s go for a swim. All that sugar I had at the air port is kicking in and I can’t sit here anymore.” I threw off my dress to reveal my bathing suit underneath.

    “Swim? Me?” Gramm stared at the vast ocean in front of us and the white capped waves crashing in. “I haven’t swam since I was a little girl!”

    “It’ll be fun!” I said, dragging her toward the water. She resisted but came with me to the edge of the water. The waves splashed over our feet, taking the sand from under us and causing us to sink slightly. I didn’t want to wait. I hadn’t swum in the Pacific before and dove into the next big wave. I pushed against the current and came up for air, waving at Gramm as she stood at the edge, not daring to go any further.

    “You’re crazy!” she shouted.

    “You say that like it’s a bad thing!” I shouted back, laughing. I caught the next big wave and became a human surf board. I slid onto the sand next to where Gramm stood and looked up and smiled.

    “Where did you learn how to do that?” she asked.

    “Frankie taught me last year on our camping trip,” I said, struggling slightly to stand before another wave could knock me down. I ran back to where our stuff was and grabbed my camera. I showed her how to use it and dove back into the ocean again and again, riding the waves while she took pictures and laughed every time I nearly crashed into something or got a huge clump of sand in my suit.

    When I was exhausted, we went back to our towels. Gramm pulled a brush from my purse and began running it through my hair. It brought back memories of when I was a little girl and she would get me and my sister ready for school every morning. I began to sing, “Sand in my swimsuit, Sand in my hair. When I go to the beach, sand gets everywhere. I wonder, I wonder. Oh, how can there be sand left on the beach when there’s so much on me.”

    “Where’d you learn that?” Gramm asked.

    “It was on a sticker I saw one time in my scrapbook kit,” I said, as I flipped through the pictures on my camera. I showed her some of my favorite pictures with my boyfriend, Frank, and the funny faces my sister and I made just because we were bored.

    By now, the sun began to set and it was the most incredible thing I had ever seen in my life. The sky in front of us was a large array of reds, oranges and yellows. Behind us were deep blues and purples gradually changing to black. I began clicking my camera more. I knew our day was coming to a close and we would have to go our separate ways so I wanted to capture every moment while I could. We walked along the beach one more time. There were less people now. We collected sea shells and posed for more pictures when we could find someone to play photographer.

    Finally, Gramm looked at the sky. The sun was almost set. Her eyes were filled with the sadness we both felt, though she still smiled. She put her arm around me and reached up to kiss my cheek again.

    ”Thank you, baby,” she said, choking back tears. “I had the best time today. I only wish I could have seen anyone else.”

    “You can!” I said, squeezing her hand. “You don’t have to go. Come back home with me. We miss you so much. The house isn’t the same without you.”

    “I’m sorry, sweetie,” she said, not meeting my eyes. “I can’t. I have to go back.” A soft glow began to appear around her.

    “No!” I cried, and moved to cling to her. But, I fell into the sand. I looked up at her as she began to fade away right in front of me.

    “I’ll send your love to your grandfather,” she said. Her voice echoed. All my surroundings began to blur. I lay on the sand, crying and calling out to her.

    “No! Wait! GRAMM!” I sat up. When I opened my eyes, I was in my little basement bedroom. The only image of my grandmother was a small, hand painted, gold frame with a picture of my grandparents on their fiftieth anniversary some twenty years ago. It was a gift on the Mother’s Day before Gramm died. I pulled my blanket around me and sobbed. The sad reality began to set in. It was all a dream. It was so real but it was only a dream.