For 15 days Dave and I awoke to this smiling cutie. Whether in her stroller, crawling around the house or bouncing on her Daddy’s shoulders in the waves at Waianae, the smiles are part of her outfits most of the time.
When the crankiness comes, she’s usually hungry, wants to chew on something cold, or expects a clean diaper. Alter the situations and the smiles return. As grandparents, we can give in to those adorable dimples and do just a little bit of spoiling when we see her. Alas, the distance that separates us makes each leaving hard.
Over four decades ago, when Dave and I dated and he flew from the Buffalo Airportm headed for Vietnam, his mother made a profound comment to me.
“Shakespeare may have said ‘parting is such sweet sorrow,’ but I have yet to discover the sweet in it.” I believe Mom and I decided that the Bard of Avon never had to stray too far from home!
When our sons were born in the 70s, we attended a church that made this birth announcement for new babies: “On loan to Dave and Flo Wolfe….” followed by the baby’s name, date of birth and vital statistics. Our children belong to God; He merely loans them to us to love and disciple for a few years. Somehow, I really thought I had some sort of grasp on that concept, and after all, 18 years includes more time than any new parent can comprehend. Blink, however, and the child finishes elementary school. And the next six years of secondary school –even with the highs and lows of busy schedules and hormone hopping — bring us to the goodbyes said when that child enters college.
Those goodbyes came hard for Dave and me, but when the empty nest came, we looked at each other and found two love birds still inhabited the nest! I still struggled to say goodbye each time the guys returned to college, obviously always wearing my heart on my sleeve, as my mom used to say.
When Brent married in 1998, he and his beautiful bride lived in an apartment about 10 miles from us in Maryland, but graduate school took them to Georgia in 1999.
Brent’s first teaching job took him to Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, Mississippi for three years. Then he accepted a position at Georgia Southern, near Savannah, and he and Becky returned to the east coast.
Settled into life, they started their family and now have two adorable little girls we see whenever we can.
As great an adventure as parenting was for Dave and me, grandparenting takes joy to a whole new level. Dave, AKA “Santa Grampa,” is a model grandfather. He plays, babysits, prepares bottles, burps the babies, changes diapers, rocks them, and wipes tears. When two sisters want the same Tigger, Grandpa can teach sharing and make the younger one smile while Indian wrestling with the older sister. He creates win-win situations!
We see those little girls’ smiles and melt. We call to show concern when they get sick, and express thanks and relief when they flourish. Together, Dave and I pray for their character development and that they will come to a personal relationship with Christ while they are yet young.
So we drive the 10+ hours to Georgia to see these two sweethearts several times a year.Thankfully, our son and gracious daughter-in-love let us stay for extended visits.
While I realize that Shakespeare had psychological insights into human nature over three hundred years before Sigmund Freud arrived on the scene, I think he missed a look at the heart of a grand parent. Besides, he never had grand children in Georgia….or Hawaii, where the youngest of our three granddaughters lives with her parents, Bryan and Stacey.
Last Wednesday, just before we left for the Honolulu Airport to fly home to Maryland, I patted Baby’s back and stroked her silky hair while I struggled to keep my emotions in check.
I then realized this: When Juliet says “Parting is such sweet sorrow,” to Romeo, she may have anticipated a teenager’s hormonal tingling for a future clandestine meeting despite the feuding families…
but was no grandma!
The parting will always be the hardest part, and this grandma will always long for the next visit!