Since I got up this morning before daylight, I’ve had a precious girl in my thoughts and it has brought many smiles and happy remembrances. Today’s blog will be about her and all the joy she has brought.
Once upon a time, my only sibling, my sister, gave birth to her first child, a girl named Grace. The first time I saw that sweet little round bundle I fell head over heals for her. Over the course of the years to follow, she would bring riotous laughter and more brightness to my life than I could ever have imagined in the beginning. Yes, the love was there from the start, but little did I know, it would only get better and better!
From her ferocious appetite in infancy and those wild screaming cries that kept the whole neighborhood up nights for months to her rambunctious and inquisitive toddlerhood, she was bursting with life and claiming her rightful place at the center of all of our attention!
I recognized very early that she and I shared an exuberance that neither my sister nor my only child at the time had. It was once said “good thing Grace wasn’t Anna’s because having the two of them together in the same household all the time would be overkill.” That was said by my sister who had endured me all those years of our childhood and found herself raising a similar character.
So as Grace and I found time to ourselves, we developed much imaginative play with her dinosaurs and my stuffed monkeys. It was so much fun, in fact, that we would often have phone conversations at busy times when we couldn’t work out face to face playtime in order to have our critters engage each other. She would have her dinosaurs say to my monkeys “I am a meat-eater and my favorite is MONKEY MEAT!” To which my monkeys, quivering in fear responded with pleas for survival.
In addition to all of this, I began to send her poems, supposedly written by the monkeys with their pictures drawn haphazardly by my inartistic hand. The fun was ongoing and the joy delightful for both of us.
As she got older, Grace began coming over to spend the night with us from time to time and that was ALWAYS a blast! I teased Grace and called her Gertrude or LuLu to which she responded by naming me “Girltrude” and “Aunt Anna LuLu.” We would laugh and tease and play, read, draw, color and watch movies. Uncle Erick would cook for us on the grill and join in the playtime making it even more hilarious with his zany input. Grace would roll around laughing until she could hardly breathe and us right along with her. Yes, she stayed up past her bedtime and we fed her bedtime snacks of applesauce and her favorite crackers until she was bleary eyed from exhaustion and a full belly.
One of the absolute funniest things she ever said was after her baby sister was born looking nothing like Grace. I asked “who do you think you look like Grace?” And she said “Well, I think I look a little bit like you and a little bit like my dad.” I then asked “well, who do you think your baby sister, Ruby, looks like” to which Grace responded “I think Ruby looks like Nanny and I think they both look like monkeys!” She didn’t crack a smile and I almost burst!
Once when she was 3, I was rocking her before bedtime and she was talking and talking as some children do, changing subjects every few breaths, saying I wonder about this and I wonder about that, and then getting very tired she sighed and said “I wonder…” I looked into those big round blue eyes situated in that perfectly round face just above those darling chubby little cheeks and I knew right then I had found a soul mate. I, too, wonder about all of life and my thoughts never fail to ponder. She would be like me in that way along with her exuberance over the beauty of life and the joy of relationship!
How blessed I’ve been by all of the children who have come through the doors of my heart and home! I could write for the rest of my life about them, one by one, and never adequately convey the joy and love I have experienced from having them be a part of my life.
There is something so precious and wonderful about fresh, new life. We should try to preserve innocence and give children plenty of room to be who God created them to be; curious, inquisitive, talkative, lively, energetic, jubilant, and joyful! What they bring to the world I cherish and hold dear, allowing my mind to remember back to the simple times when a trip to “the turtle soap store” hand in hand with Grace would make her smile for days, and how she once looked up into the night sky at the age of 2 to say “oh look Anna, it’s a crescent moon!” Those moments are locked into my memory and make me smile again and again.
Even now my mind won’t stop! I have to add another experience here, one with a tired and grumpy little Grace when she went with her mom and me to dinner after a day of shopping. We were in a quiet little restaurant and I’m sure Grace was either the only child or one of only a few who were there at the time and she spotted one of those candy machines. She began to wail loudly “Mimi, I want JUNK FOOD! JUNK FOOD MIMI!!!” Every eye in the place focused in on us and I fell over laughing. This didn’t help poor Mimi very much but it was one more memorable moment I would forever hold dear of that precious little girl named Grace who would forever reside in my heart!