M&M’s, the little, round color-coated candies, are pretty darn special at the Frantz house. A bunch of years ago, my little sister, Gretchen, gifted our special needs daughter with a large M&M dispenser. She stuck lots of adorable Sesame Street character stickers like Elmo and Cookie Monster around the sides. Mimi’s name is on the front of the clear base. On one side are the letters “Hands Off” which no one ever paid any attention to.
For years, it sat filled on her dresser like a slot machine ready to payout a multi-colored jackpot. All Mimi had to do was point in the dispenser’s direction and I would gather a handful. I’d give them to her one at a time while she was watching her favorite television shows. The old black-and-white series “Dennis the Menace,” “The Rugrats” cartoons, or “Home Improvement” where some of her favorites.
The grandkids also adore M&M’s. After bursting through the back door most every Sunday, it wasn’t long before they would head to Mimi’s room to raid her M&M’s. She was very good at sharing. The boys also applauded her choices in television programming. Until recently, Jacob and Ben would stand on either side of her wheelchair for a spell to peek at what Mimi was watching.
Shortly before Mimi left us, 2-year-old Ben came out of Mimi’s room with his cheeks obviously filled with more than just his teeth.
“Do you have something in your mouth?” said the hubster, otherwise known as “Pop-Pop.”
Ben just shook his head in the negative. A second later Ben grinned to reveal a mouth gushing with milk chocolate and multi-colored candy coatings. It is the reason we moved Mimi’s M&M’s to the kitchen. I predict the lad is destined to be the child that can’t keep a secret … or tell a lie.
Did I mention the hubster and I had some visitors for dinner about a week ago? Three very lovely ladies, Christina, Shaye and Erin, from the day center Mimi attended for many years, came bearing gifts and dinner. It was bittersweet with tears and laughter as we all shared stories about our special daughter who only weeks before was given her angel wings.
I think we all learned so much about Mimi that night. Since Mimi had a very limited vocabulary and returned home each week with a backpack full of art and worksheets, I had assumed I knew how she spent her time at the day center.
Shaye told us how she loved sharing her McDonald’s French fries with Mimi. Christina told us how Mimi sometimes liked to wander around the day center. If there was an open classroom door, Mimi would wander in and see what was going on. Sometimes she would wheel herself to the front desk to visit. Often there were donuts for the staff at the front desk and Mimi would partake. We didn’t have donuts often at our house … but when we did … she never turned them down. Erin, the art teacher, told us how Mimi would insert herself into her small art room. I found this so interesting since Mimi hated using her hands for anything other than eating or moving her wheelchair. Erin thinks Mimi knew the art teacher just needed a hug.
“I noticed the M&M’s in the kitchen,” said Christina after dinner.
We were still sitting at the table. I told her they were Mimi’s favorite and how they came to be sitting in the kitchen instead of her room. Christina told us that when Mimi stayed for respite at Stoney Glen, she liked to hang out with Mr. Vince in his office. Sometimes he would pull out a small package of M&M’s, open the package, and then place a few on the edge of his desk. Then Vince would look away like he was working on his computer. That was Mimi’s cue to pilfer his M&M’s.
M&M’s … the iconic candy that brought so many of us together.