Dear Mrs. Danielsson

Now that I write it out, I can’t even remember how to really spell your last name. Did I get it right? The only certainty is that you guys are Swedish for sure, and the kids called you Melissa and Magnus. 

Wonder if they still do. 

Wonder if it would feel any more or less awkward to hear, now that they’re (pre?)teenagers and probably have some attitude to back it all up. Are they still allowed?


The lamb’s ear in our fledgling front yard garden is flourishing! I guess it’s misleading to combine fledgling and flourishing in one garden, huh? If I had to pick one I’d go with the latter. But strangely, and quite nicely, the garden manages to be both of those things. lush and beautiful, but still sort of incomplete looking. Like, it’s working on itself. Which it is. With a lot of help from my mom’s ache-y back and tennis shoulder, which we keep nagging her about, but she won’t stop pruning her yard-baby. But yeah, the lamb’s ear is plush and glorious in its uniquely epic, teddy-bear-in-plant-form kind of way, and it always, always reminds me of the time that you took us all to the Botanical Garden in Atlanta. Where I met this stuffed animal-plant hybrid for the first time and was too amazed not to filch a leaf, although the signs clearly stated No Stealing of Specimen. Or something like that. I just really wanted to show my mom, who wasn’t there with us, sharing these wondrous tropical moments.


We came home, me with pocketsful of individual leaves, wilting and distinctly less glorious than they had been, before I stole-killed them in one fell swoop. Well, more like many tiny, filchy swoops. Lesson: do not try to possess nature. She’ll commit suicide the moment you wrap your greedy little fingers around her tendrils.


There were lots of lessons. learned thanks to you, Mrs. Danielsson, though I never thought about them in so many words. How to be a normal-person mom who uses her babysitter. How to deal with a baby with nut allergies whose babysitter has fed her an almond biscotti. Okay, so admittedly, a lot to do with babysitting, which is only natural, given our relationship. But also!: How to accept spicy food graciously, even when it makes you sweat profusely and obviously. How to be trusting and generous with neighbors. How to remain in someone’s life for a long time after they’ve left, simply by letting them partake in your daily mishaps and triumphs. The bedtime whines and the Christmas cookies, always the Pillsbury kind, out of the blue tube.


I wonder if there are things that make you think of me, or if the experience was only a one-way impressionism. Were there other babysitters, after we moved away? (I’m sure there were.) Did you like them better?worse?the same? 


I still wear the Paris! t-shirt from Paris! My mom says I should throw it out and stop dressing myself like such a hobo, but I refuse.


Hope all is well with you — and Mr. Danielsson and Eric and Emily, none of whom are little anymore, probably. But sort of always will be, right? There’s a storm about these parts; hope it’s sunny down there for you and your bumblebees.





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