Family on Fridays: Gabby and Me

This is exactly what I was afraid of.  I can’t even write the first sentence of this post without crying. But I don’t have time to fall apart today. You see, I am babysitting my four-and-a-half-month-old granddaughter, Gabrielle Sophia, for three days (and nights) and I am overwhelmed with joy on a minute-by-minute basis.


It’s not that I didn’t also love having my daughter, Beth, and her husband, Kevin, stay with us for a couple of days this week, because that was also a wonderful treat. But they took off for Knoxville yesterday for a three-day football weekend (Tennessee vs. Florida . . . go, Vols!) with friends from their college years at UT. They honored us (and I mean that in the most serious way) with the privilege of keeping Gabby while they’re gone. If you follow my blog, you already know that I was there when she was born. I mean THERE. In the delivery suite, with Kevin, helping my daughter do the hardest and most wonderful thing she’s ever done in her life. It was so hard that she passed out just as she delivered Gabby and I “had to” hold the baby for the first hour of her life while Beth recovered. I spent five weeks in Denver in April (she was born on April 23) and visited for a week again in July.


So… when I picked them up at the airport on Tuesday, Gabby recognized me right away (no room for arguments here) and just lights up every moment of every day that we are together.


At this point some of you are thinking, “yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s how every grandmother feels.” And I would like to think so. But what some of you might be missing here is the back story. (Okay, more tears… good thing Gabby is asleep.)


When I was sixteen years old, I learned that I could never have children. One year later I fell in love with a nineteen-year-old sophomore at Ole Miss and I remember how nervous I was when I told him I could never have his children. He didn’t miss a beat. “Yes, you will. We’ll just adopt them.”


The day Beth arrived from S. Korea (November 4, 1985)

And of course we did…. Jonathan, in 1977, Jason, in 1984, and Beth in 1985. Over the next 35 years we watched these three awesome people find parts of themselves in sports, engineering, architecture, literature, the world of food and wine (one is now a sommelier and part owner in a gourmet wine and cheese business), the armed services (both boys) and for Jason and Beth, marriage and children. They’ve traveled the world for sport, recreation, war, and (Jason—to South Korea) in search of roots. And now Jason and Beth have their own birth families (Jason’s girls are 2 and 3). The circle of family and belonging is growing closer and my joy is made full.


I see much of Beth in Gabby’s little person, even though Beth didn’t come to us until she was almost three years old. Sometimes I cry when I imagine her life when she was Gabby’s age, and I wish I could have been her birth mother. I wish I could have been the one up with her for feedings in the middle of the night and holding her and kissing her and telling her how much she is loved.


Of course it’s much harder, physically, to do all of those things at age 61, but it’s only for three days. And last night Gabby slept for 9 hours straight—a personal record—which thrilled me. Today we’re just hanging out. We might go for a stroll later if it doesn’t rain. And I might indulge in a rare nap for myself during one of Gabby’s.


Life is Good. My cup runneth over.

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