In November 1974, our firstborn’s fourth birthday and Thanksgiving Day came in the last week of the month. My husband and I packed our suitcases and left our Warren townhouse for his parents’ home in Grand Rapids.

Becky loved to visit Grandma Rosie. Grandma hid yummy surprises throughout her large, colonial house for Becky to find. The fun began with Grandma’s vintage coffee grinder which promised Hershey Kisses.

And Grandpa, Uncle Miles and Uncle Mark guaranteed triple attention. Under Grandpa’s supervision, the boys took Becky on snowmobile rides around their backyard. The first and only grandchild in the Underwood family until her two sisters arrived, all eyes focused on Becky from the moment we entered Grandma and Grandpa Underwood’s house.

As usual, that 1974 Thanksgiving we lingered around the kitchen table until time to leave. Then the wall phone rang and Grandma Rosie answered. She handed me the receiver. “It’s one of your sisters.”


“Iris, haven’t you heard about the snowstorm?”

Now, the Underwood family kept a television on in each room, except the dining room and Grandma’s “rumpus” room.

“No, we’ve not heard one snowstorm alert,” I said.

“If you don’t want to get snowed in, you’d better leave immediately.”

History records our harrowing drive home on Grand River Avenue to Eight Mile Road and Hoover was one of thousands that “Super Snowstorm” of 19.3 inches.

In contrast, forty-nine Novembers later, not one snowflake fell yesterday on our drive to and from our daughter’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.

When we entered the side door, Lily greeted us with her two best neighborhood buddies, Stringer and Alli.

“You’re dog sitting?” I asked Ruth.

She nodded. “They’ll be back tonight.”

Although I’d never met Stringer, Alli, and their owners, I’ve heard Ruth speak of them and Stringer, a wolf breed. Alli, a Chihuahua mix and adopted after her owner passed, is new to the neighborhood.

Lily, the youngest at three years, ran circles (literally) around Stringer and Alli, their muzzles gray at twelve years old. Alli’s short legs and age excluded her from Lily’s and Stringer’s boisterous play and walk in the woods with Ruth and me.

After our delicious dinner, kitchen cleanup, and walk, we all gathered on the mammoth sofa before one of Ruth’s televisions and watched the conclusion of the Lions game.

Just like my cats do, Alli settled on my lap.

“Here, Mom, wrap Alli in her blanky. She loves it.”

Eventually, Alli’s dark eyes, gray muzzle, and pointed ears emerged from her blanket. I noticed the divide at the tip of her left ear. “What happened?” I asked Ruth.

“An infection.”

Dear Reader, as a young mother, I never dreamt I would be the grandmother to a black lab named Lily. Furthermore, I could not imagine my third-born’s heart would melt at the brown eyes and gray muzzle of a tiny dog named Alli.

And for the record, I’m sorry the Lions lost to the Packers.

Contact Iris at