When our grandson, Charlie, called (his voice sounding a lot like his mother’s) my husband and I gladly offered to fill in the three-day gap in his daycare arrangements. And what better way to share this adventure than through #WordlessWednesday (or in my case #AlmostWordlessWednesday)? Enjoy!
I was hesitant to fully engage in this holiday season. There were noticeable absences in our recent family photos. I forced myself to decorate. I forgot to download my Christmas music. I let Costco do my baking. The festivities that I had always embraced so naturally didn’t feel the same as they had before.
I continued putting one foot in front of the other. Faking it until I could make it. I knew that Richard noticed. Of course he did. He was doing the same.
And then it snuck up on us. In small increments at first. It began with friends and neighbours. Some came to call. Others invited us out. Understanding, empathy, and connection are deeply seeded needs of the human experience.
It then continued with our children. Spending time with our sons and their wives/partners brings pure contentment to my soul. Adding in grandchildren is a joy that I can never adequately describe. Reunited, we told familiar stories. We laughed at tales that had been retold a hundred times. We slipped into the comfort of not having to pretend. We luxuriated in the warmth of family. Our shared experiences continued to bind us more tightly than ever.
We hung our stockings near the fire. This year we hung not only our current ones…but also the stockings of loved ones who are no longer here.
During one family gathering, Richard and I looked at each other, simultaneously overcome by emotion. We both deeply felt the presence of those who could not be seen. The feeling was unmistakable. We now recognize that day as a turning point toward healing the pieces that have been taken from our hearts.
It is said that at the end of our lives it is not our careers, our money, or our possessions that we reach for. Instead, it is the gift of family that we yearn for and hold most dear. That gift, Richard and I have received in abundance. For this, we are most deeply grateful.
This post has been written in memory of our loved ones who have so immeasurably enhanced our lives. It is especially dedicated to our first granddaughter, Baylee Jade Kailuweit-Wageman who was born October 28, 2016, and sorrowfully passed away two days later. Rest in peace beautiful Baylee. You have enriched our hearts profoundly, as only an angel could.
For years (28 to be exact), my mother has been extolling the virtues of grandparenthood. “If I knew how wonderful it was to have grandchildren,” she has often said, “I would have had them first!”
Last week, our daughter-in-law (DIL) stopped by for an overnight visit with our first grandson, Charlie, who has just turned one. My husband and I eagerly offered to let our DIL sleep in the next day. “We can take care of everything,” we offered with confidence. Taking us at our word, at five a.m. our sleepy DIL handed us a not-remotely-sleepy Charlie. He was wet, hungry and ready for action. Where should we begin?
The diaper. My husband and I each gave a silent prayer and a brave sniff. Praise be! The diaper was only wet!! We changed it with relative ease—hurdle number one: check!
As I am a sentimentalist and a very practical person at heart, I have kept certain items that others would have tossed long ago. Thus, we set up the highchair that our youngest son used 28 years before. It still worked perfectly. Hurdle number two: check! Our DIL had said that Charlie’s food was in the green bag. The correct bag was located with formula, bottles, baby food jars and some ‘easy squeezy packs’ containing such food blends as ‘Organic Apple Broccoli Peas Brown Rice’. “Do you think we are supposed to heat this?” I asked aloud. Richard looked at the package, and at me, as if we were both from Mars. That was seriously no help. After a bit more rummaging, I found an “organic pear banana kiwi” food pouch. That sounded like a good breakfast food…and it wouldn’t need to be heated. We went with that. Hurdle number three: check!
I left the bottle preparation to Richard…and I was glad that I did. “Why do they make the print for the formula instructions so small?” Richard grumbled. “And why don’t they say if we need to boil the water or not.” “There’s cooled boiled water in the kettle,” I said. Hurdle number four: check.
Charlie seemed pleased with our selections, and our preparations. He ate, drank and played happily. Feeling triumphant with our successes so far, we decided to take Charlie, and our dog, Cody, for a walk. How hard could that be?
“Socks,” Richard uttered and repeated. “Charlie will need socks.” My DIL and Charlie were sharing a single duffle bag for their clothes and personal items. The duffle bag was upstairs, right beside the guest bedroom door. I tried to sneak upstairs quietly but Charlie, quite loudly, made it clear that he was not staying downstairs with Grandpa. “It’s a woman’s touch,” I said shrugging, as I quietly carried Charlie upstairs.
Lawrence of Arabia could not have gotten through that duffle bag! Seriously, babies require lots of stuff! I tried to be quiet. I honestly did. But Charlie kept finding things that banged together nicely…and loudly!
“Do you need something?” my half-awake DIL murmured, now standing before me. At that precise moment her bra was in my hand as I rifled through her things. “Socks,” I stammered. “Richard thought that Charlie would need socks.” Without even adjusting her eyes, she picked up Charlie’s socks from the middle of the (now incredibly scattered) pile. How did she do that? Hurdle number five: partial check!
With that, I grabbed the first tiny short-set that I could see (which I later found out were Charlie’s swim shorts and UV protection swim top). Back downstairs, we quickly dressed Charlie–socks, UV protection and all. We put Cody on his leash, Charlie in his stroller and off we went.
We were very proud of ourselves. Charlie had been changed, dressed, fed and (gently) wrangled into his stroller. We could do this! We made it to our local coffee shop and sat at an outside table. The breakfast special was coffee plus bacon and eggs on an English muffin. It came with a side of watermelon slices. That sounded like a just reward for our efforts. We ordered two. I would like to say that they were delicious, but Cody managed to abscond with most of the bacon and Charlie was intent on eating all of the watermelon. “Is he allowed to have unstrained watermelon?” Richard asked. “I won’t tell if you don’t,” I pledged.
We finished our breakfast—baby, dog, and grandparents now happy and content. Charlie fell asleep on our way back home, allowing his mother even more sleep time. All hurdles had now been successfully completed: double checks…with a bonus mark!
The entire experience was amazing. So many little joys that both Richard and I had forgotten. As we now have two more grandchildren on the way, we say: “Bring it on…we can handle it!” Just ask Charlie.
P.S. My mother was right. Having a grandchild is very cool indeed!