I received this in my inbox this afternoon. I immediately knew, as my eyes filled with tears- that I needed to share this tribute to the little girl who urges us all to be better just by standing by our side.
I am unbelievably lucky that we are loved in this way.
Hi, it’s me – Grampa.
It may seem to be a bit odd that I am writing what is essentially a thank-you note to a three year-old, but read on, I hope and trust that it will make more sense.
Thank you for just being you and for being such a big part of my life.
You probably don’t realize it, but you hold more power in those little hands and those beautiful eyes than anyone else that I know.
When we had your Mom, it was the greatest and most exhilarating part of our life. The problem is we were WAY too busy being scared senseless half the time and run ragged the rest of the time to properly appreciate what a miracle a child really is. Don’t get me wrong. We enjoyed every birthday cake (including the “upside down” one that the dog got to eat), every graduation, and every recital, concert, play and dance. All the cookouts, the camping, the coffee milk in the mornings, and learning a new word every day in the car. The challenges, the drama, the achievements and the setbacks – we loved them all.
I remember the agony of holding Mimi’s hand on New Year’s Eve when we thought we had lost your Mom, only to have the ultrasound tech casually say, “…and there’s the baby’s heartbeat…”. Your Mom might not even realize it, but that’s why having a sparkling grape drink became a tradition on New Year’s Eve – that was my own way of celebrating.
All the fussing, fretting and yes, fights over things that seemed so monumental then but have faded out to dim memories. The days when Mimi was working nights, getting up in the afternoon to pick your Mom up from school, and then trying to sleep a few hours before work. The long flights back from wherever my work had sent me, so I could rush in to catch your Mom on the stage in grade school. Picking your Mom up from Nana’s in the middle of the night so I could go back to school and get my degree (another whole story here – we couldn’t have done it without Nana & Papa – and I completely understand now when she said the your Mom was “as good as Gold”).
We agonized over the choices we made for your Mom. All the things that we did that we were certain could mess things up forever if we didn’t get them just right. Trust me – we didn’t always get it just right.
You see, kids don’t come with directions. Most of the “free” advice you get is worth every penny you paid for it. We spent most of the time hoping that we weren’t screwing your Mom up too badly and the rest of our time trying to build a good life for our family. Everything seemed to go by in a blur. We were running so fast for so long that I just thought that was the way it was supposed to be.
And then you came along.
When I look in your eyes and see the pure joy of discovery – of seeing something for the very first time – it takes me back to when your Mom had the very same expression on her face.
When you dance around the living room to the song that is playing in your head, I see your Mom doing the very same dance.
Reading you a story – and having you catch me when I try to skip ahead – your Mom did that, too.
Beaming with pride when a total stranger says to me “What a beautiful little girl!”, yup, been there before.
You see, Gracie, I need to thank you. I need to thank you for allowing me to experience all of this again. The thousands of moments that might otherwise have been buried in the haze of the past. Thanks to you, this time, I can experience it all without the stress and pressure of “getting it right”.
And I get to re-live all those feelings, all those experiences we had with your Mom in a way I am very sure no other person could have unlocked.
I know that your Mom loves you more than life itself. I know that she agonizes over all the decisions she faces, the choices she makes, the thresholds she crosses over. I know that sometimes she is filled with doubt and uncertainty. I also know a lot of things that your Mom doesn’t know – yet.
Like she will go through her life and have just a handful of friends that she will be able to count on when things get tough – and she hasn’t even met some of them yet. Like the fact that even when she thinks she can’t possibly take one more tiny bit of stress, she will somehow dig deep and find a way to persevere. I know that your Mom has more strength and courage that she can possibly imagine – and that there will be days when she will need every ounce of it.
She will learn to hold dear friends and family close to her heart – because in a flash they will be gone.
I know that someday you will cause your Mom unimaginable frustration, joy, anger and pride – perhaps even in the very same day. I also know that no matter how much anybody tells her not to worry – she will still worry. And I also know that in the end, it will all somehow work out.
Do you want to know how I know all this?
You told me.
You are God-given proof that we got it right.