Live Well, Love Much, Laugh Often. Anonymous
The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive. Thich Nhat Hanh
Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big thing. Robert Breault
There was a moment while standing in line at the Moscow, Idaho Food Co-op last week that I, Grandma Helen, felt like I was on the verge of losing it. It had been a long day, an exciting one, and, now, at dinner time, in the midst of the evening crowds pushing their filled-up carts of groceries and deli food dinners toward the counters, my hands were full. As I stepped up to the check-out and began to unload the bags of fruit and salad fixings, the carton of milk, the glass bottle of apple juice, the plates of food that we would eat at the store’s spacious cafe, the two older grandkids under my care had decided that they were finished. The sweet adorable cousins who usually love to shop together, Addie at two, sitting in the green cart, Viren, at five, riding on the side rails, were through with it all, the niceties, the fun, the taking turns for their Grandma’s attention. They had evacuated the cart and Viren was pulling the Peruvian hat with its knitted buffalo nose and ears, the hat that Addie had insisted on trying on when we passed the new shipment of winter wares, down over her face, and she, the toddler who had become a big sister less than twenty-hours earlier, was starting to cry. And right when this was happening just steps behind me, the man with the beard who was pricing our groceries, decided to chat. It was in that moment that I began to melt into a puddle of ineptitude.
And why am I telling you this when what I really want to do is gush about the fabulous fifteen days that I have just spent in Moscow, Idaho with my two sons and their families, when what I really want to tell you is that it was all so very perfect? There were the early morning walks on country roads as the sun rose over the golden hills of hay and wheat, and the cows and the horses that greeted me and became my friends during this quiet window of time before the families began their busy days. And then there was the waking up of grandkids — and what could possibly be better than welcoming the still-dream-sleepy little ones into your arms and into your eager-for-them heart? And the walking Viren to kindergarten, sometimes alone, sometimes with his father and his four-and-a-half-month-old sister, and once, with Grandpa Cam, this was not only precious beyond measure; it was fun. I entered Viren’s world and found it filled with wonder. During the half-mile traipse through neighborhood streets to the elementary school, Viren and I balanced on the edges of sidewalks, talked of super heroes and the characters in Lord of the Rings, and, sometimes, we met up with other kids, and joined in their conversations. One second grade freckle-faced guy, looked directly at me, and said with a toothless grin and the utmost of sincerity, “Some people are old, but still have the heart of a child.” It was perfect, this comment, this time with the grandkids. To find the heart of a child within a grandma’s body is the best.
There was Addie, who turned two in August, and loves to talk, who sings and chats with pronouns and participles and a pleasure that is contagious. There were the days that the two of us played on slides and swings, made green mustaches as we drank smoothies at the Co-op, traveled twice to Potlatch to touch the antique train that sits in a park, the Big Black Train, said in a guttural voice with much emphasis. And there was Aila, Viren’s baby sister, who has a guttural laugh of her own, who is hearty and hardy, and sturdy in a grandma’s arms, who coos and cackles and seems to love a tone deaf rendition of Edelweiss from Sound of Music. And this isn’t a fraction of it, the rich music of this trip, the deliciousness of time spent as a family, with each and every member, alone and together. One evening, I stood in the kitchen of Addie’s home and looked out at the family, both families, the dogs, my husband, and I grabbed my phone for a photo. No one knew that I was capturing the moment; no one was posing. There was a natural ease in the air as we shared an evening, an evening of presence while waiting for Baby.
And Baby did arrive, the next evening on Monday, Day Ten of my fifteen day visit, after another family dinner at Addie’s home, and a quick ride to the hospital, and a very short labor for his mom. At 9:57, just as his sister was falling asleep in Grandma Helen’s guest bed, Wesley Ernest entered the world. And he is beautiful and healthy and carries the names of his great grandfathers. And there is nothing to prepare you for the awe and the beauty and the emotion that occurs when you first meet a little one, whether you are the parents or the grandmother or the toddler sister or the five-year-old cousin. Sometimes it is beyond what you can put into words and into your body home. Sometimes it overflows into a moment in line at the Co-op. And I’d be lying if I told you that there weren’t other moments of frustration, of exhaustion, of melt-down with no new baby as an excuse. But the truth is that the melt-downs melted into the next moments, were carried forward with an undercurrent of love and stability and sanity. And isn’t that perfection, the knowing that it is okay to be less than what you deem as perfect or good or “in-line” as you wait in the check-out line, that you are “love” and are loved no matter what?
Just as I was about to sink into the grocery store ineptitude, Viren’s dad, holding Baby Aila in her carseat, walked into the Co-op, and greeted the three of us, Viren, Addie and me, with a chipper hello. He hustled Viren away to choose our seats at the cafe, and I picked up Addie who immediately stopped crying. Viren’s mom joined us as we sat down to our deli-food dinner, as I snapped a photo of Addie happily stuffing a fork-load of mashed potatoes into her mouth, as I sent it off to her parents and Baby Wesley Ernest at the hospital just a block away. It was perfect.