Today’s your birthday. How I wish I could be there.
But, although I don’t get a big piece of cake this year, I didn’t miss out entirely. I could hear the excitement in your voice and could imagine the sparkle in your big brown eyes as you opened your presents. I’m glad you’re saving your ‘party’ until tonight when Daddy’s home because I know he wouldn’t want to miss one minute.
I’ve been thinking a lot today about how happy your mommy and daddy were when they discovered they were getting a wonderful surprise gift. You! Baby Amy! Your mommy never complained – not once – about being so fat and tiring so easily, and your daddy thought Mommy was just beautiful.
Never having been a grandmother before, I didn’t know quite how to feel about all that. Those were brand new feelings for me. All I knew for sure was that my own grandmother was one of the most special people in my life, and I hoped that someday, if you remembered me as half that special, it would mean I’d been a good grandmother, too. I want you to know that I take the elevated status to grandmother very seriously.
I remember just like it was yesterday, when Daddy called from the hospital. I had been anxiously waiting and so I grabbed the phone on the first ring. His voice sounded a little shaky, which worried me at first, but then I realized he was crying from the sheer happiness of having a little daughter. He finally managed to say “She’s here.” and then we both cried a little.
Within hours, I was in Texas, and rocking you in the big rocking chair in Mommy’s hospital room. As soon as I cradled you in my arms, you grabbed my finger like you never wanted to let go, and at that moment I discovered the special bond between granddaughter and grandmother. The feeling was overwhelming and powerful. Then you opened your eyes and solemnly gazed at me. You did! I swear it! You looked right at me and I knew you felt something magical, too. Here was yet another who loved you and all you’d had to do was spit up a little and grab hold of their finger. So far, feeling adored was a piece of cake!
The doctors at the hospital helped take you from Mommy’s tummy so she was tired and sore. Over the next few days, I helped take care of you so Mommy could rest. I also taught Daddy how to take care of you so Mommy could rest after I left, and I was surprised at how quickly he learned. I don’t remember ever seeing another young man so ready to be a father. ‘Though he had never even held a newborn before, your daddy learned about diapers, bottles, and burping as easily as baby ducks learn to swim. He made me so proud. Oh, by the way, if you wondered why I didn’t stop by your crib that last morning to say goodbye, it was because I couldn’t. I wanted to, but I just couldn’t. Someday, when you’re much older, you’ll understand.
I feel very lucky that we live in the age of communications, Amy, because it means I can be part of your life, and you, mine, even though I’m a thousand miles away. I’ve cheered you on and just ‘busted’ with pride at each of your achievements. I love your paintings and have framed and hung them, along with your pictures, all around my computer where I seem to spend most of my time these days. I’m so proud of your good grades, your awards and trophies, but Daddy and Mommy also tell me you have lots of friends and that you treat them well and I think that probably makes me the most proud for that means you care about others and that will carry you farther than a whole room full of trophies.
Gosh! You’re seven! A second grader! And the tallest one in your class! My, how time does fly, but your sixth year was a good year for you, don’t you think? You completed your first year of ‘big’ school, you rode on a plane for the first time, you learned to swim without your wings, and didn’t we have loads of fun at the Tennessee Aquarium and the Creative Discovery Museum? For the very first time, you also ran through the dark, catching lighting bugs in my back yard, and that’s something you’ll never forget, the way I haven’t forgotten those nights in my own grandmother’s yard. Strange how you don’t have those lightning bugs where you live, isn’t it? I wonder why that is? If I could give you the most special birthday wish ever, I would wish you peaceful summer evenings filled with children’s laughter and zillions of twinkling lightning bugs.
So, for the very first time, I’ve missed your birthday, but I’ll see you in a few weeks. I promise. I hope by then it’s much cooler in Texas. Of course, by then, you’ll have forgotten all about this special day. You’ll be thinking ahead to Christmas – and Santa Claus.
I’m with you today in my heart and I’m hoping Daddy takes lots of pictures and a video, too. What a lucky little girl you are, Amy. Your mommy and daddy are wonderful people who absolutely adore you. And, if you haven’t guessed, so does your grandmother.
Patricia’s Porch Talk: Summer Evenings and Lightning Bugs