Lily’s grandparents move Lomé Louw


Lily looks at the “SOLD” notice board in front of Granddad and Granny’s home. She wants to remove the stupid thing. Why on earth do they want to sell this beautiful house that she loves and adores so much? It will never ever be the same again – to go and visit her grandparents in the retirement village, where they will be moving to shortly.


She takes a handful of bread crumbs from a paper bag: she and Gran always fed these to the birds. “I wonder if Gran even thought about the birds when they decided to sell their house? Who will now feed the birds?” Lily scatters the bread crumbs. The doves fly down to come and feed.

And where will Bella, their dog, now stay when Lily and her family go on holiday during December? They never worried about Bella because Granddad always cared for her very well. She thrived on his titbits during holiday times!


And will her grandparents’ new house be big enough so that she will be able to stay for the night? Lily wondered. It was always such fun to spend the night with them. Grandfather tells lovely bedtime stories until drowsiness sets in and in the mornings, Grandma wakes her with hot chocolate and ginger cakes.


And did Granddad and Grandma remember to pack the board games that they always played? Will the retirement house have enough space for puzzles that can wait overnight only to be completed the next day?


And… and what about Granddad’s vegetable garden and strawberries? She will miss helping him weed the garden while picking the odd strawberry here and there when he was not looking!


Lily sits down on the steps in front of the house. Tears are burning in her eyes. She feels angry at Granddad and Granny.  How could they do this to her?


Lily is so caught up in her own misery that she did not hear Granny’s footsteps behind her. She jumps when Grandma caresses her hair. She looks up and sees tears in her Grandmother’s eyes. “Why did you sell your house? It upsets even you and granddad!” Lily feels angry all over again.


Grandma sits down on the steps next to Lily. “Dearest Lily, of course Grandma is sad to move, because this has been our home for many years. It is like transplanting an old tree. The tree will probably take some time to adapt elsewhere and it may even struggle to grow again. But in time the tree will adapt to its new surroundings and it will produce new leaves and give shade. But my tears today are tears of gratitude. We were wondering, however, whether your bed would fit in our retirement house so that you can sleep over tonight. And guess what, granddad just phoned to say that your bed has found a place! Would you like to come and have a look?”


Lily does not really want to go and look. She knows that she won’t like this new house. But the good news is that she can stay overnight. She thought that there would be no space for her bed in this new house.


In the car on their way to the retirement village, Lily and Grandma starts chatting. ‘Grandma, what about the doves? Who is going to look after them?” Her grandmother smiles. “Our next door neighbour, oom Piet, promised to take care of them. He says that he has watched you feeding the birds and he will look after them. Across the road of our new retirement home is a dam with ducks. If you want to, we can go and feed them bread crumbs when we get there.” The idea makes Lily feel slightly better.

But Lily needs to know about Bella: “Gran, what about Bella? Who will now look after her when we go away during the December holidays?”


Grandma turns in at the gates of their new retirement village. “Is this where you are going to stay now?” Lily asks. She never thought it would look so nice. There are lawns and lots of open space to frolic and even a big tree to climb. She sees other grandparents working in their gardens and believe it or not, there is an elderly man tending his vegetable garden looking just like Grandfather’s! He has a cute scarecrow and gives a friendly wave as she and Gran passes by. Although Lily wants to dislike this new place, she manages to smile and waves back at the gentleman.

“Lily, unfortunately pets are not allowed on these premises, but Mom and I spoke. There are students who come to one’s house every day  to look after the pets while you are on holiday. They do it for extra pocket money. We will look for a suitable person to tend Bella when you are away. Gramps and I will of course go and visit Bella, because we will be longing to see her!”


Grandma stops in front of a cottage with a lovely flower garden and a veranda bathed in sunlight. Lily likes the look of this. Granddad awaits them in the front door. He smiles and looks very happy.  Lily gets out of the car and flings herself in his arms. “Grandpa!” she yells, enjoying herself. She enters the new house with her grandparents. It is way smaller than their previous house, but it feels nice and warm and cozy. In the middle of the floor is a huge box. Lily reads what is written on the box:


Lily’s puzzles and toys.


She opens the box. Inside are all her favourites about which she was fretting. Grandma indicates in which cupboard Lily can unpack her toys. After that she starts to help her grandparents unpack their other boxes as well.


Lily even makes her bed which found its space in her beloved grandparents’ bedroom. She realizes that she is exhausted, but waits for Granddad’s story. She thought this new enterprise would feel bad, but her grandparents are here with her. Actually nothing has changed, it is only their house that has shrunk!


Grandpa settles in beside her and strokes her hair. He starts telling a story: “Once upon a time a grandfather and grandmother decided to sell their house, because the house and garden became too big for them to care for and to stay in.  They started hunting for a new smaller house that would be big enough for the both of them, but with enough space that their dear granddaughter’s toys could fit in and with the possibility that she can stay overnight should she so wish. These grandparents made sure that the garden would be big enough to harbour a vegetable patch and they also looked to see if there were birds in the vicinity, so that their granddaughter could feed bread crumbs to these birds. These grandparents loved their granddaughter so dearly…”


Lily starts smiling.

She knows who the little girl in this story is. She yawns and peacefully falls asleep.

This story was first published in the Autumn 2016 edition of My Child and I 



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