Posted in Family, Grandmother

My Practice Grandchildren by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Each of my three grown sons have wonderful ladies in their lives. Two are engaged! I’m thrilled to know they have love in their lives that has helped them navigate the trials and tribulations of the pandemic. I also have a selfish wish I never say in front of these very groovy couples: I want grandchildren!

One day I want to brag and smile when I tell friends about the unbelievable beauty and intelligence of my offsprings’ offspring. But until then, I will be happy with my three beautiful and intelligent “practice grandchildren.”  Jaco, Sunny, and Guppy!!!

I first met Jaco when he was a baby and his mom and I walked our dogs together in my old neighborhood. She would walk towards my house early in the morning led by her dog Lou, a regal Great Pyrenees, and Jaco faced forward in a Babybjorn carrier. As Jaco got used to me, he’d kick both of his chubby legs and give me excited smiles when my dog and I came outside. After several months of shared walks, he’d say “Mi-Mi!” when he saw me. ( However, Natalie and I were not sure if he was referring to me or my dog Millie). He shared the same wide-eyed joy for an adult who tickled his bare feet or for a dragonfly that landed on his mom’s arm. (Babies from 4 to 10 months old are very easy audiences!) But on a stroll down a trail in an off-leash dog park when Jaco was the wise age of two and a half, he gave both of my knees a spontaneous hug and said, “I love you so much!” My heart filled with a rush of love that reminded me of that tummy flutter that happens in the early months of pregnancy.

Now at age four, Jaco has matured beyond such displays of affection. During our walks he talks nonstop about the movie Cars and quotes Lightening McQueen as if he’s the cartoon car’s agent. And his long light brown curls bounce when he’s reimagining a favorite movie scene until he stops along the trail to point at the ground and say, “Look!! A roly-poly party!” So I stop and marvel with him at the crowd of bugs squirming at the base of a cypress tree. His sharp eyes miss nothing, and his curious intelligence has that “carpe diem” attitude towards the natural world so that walking with him is always part Discovery channel and part Comedy Central when he makes up silly rhymes or remembers some of Tow-Mater’s best jokes. I’ve watched Jaco grow from a stationary baby to a super curious toddler to a confident older brother and he makes me believe the world can be sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows!

Sunny

My second “practice grandchild” fits her nickname like fine crushed ice settles neatly into the thin paper cone of a snowball on a summer afternoon. Sunny’s presence is always as welcome as a cold treat on a hot day. Almost 3 years-old, Sunday Joy (my friend Crystal’s granddaughter) daily surprises her parents and friends with a capacity for love and creativity that’s only surpassed by her intelligence and wit.

Her clothing style reflects her multi-colored personality. Some days her flowered dress will match the colorful barrettes in her hair and her rainbow sneakers. Other days she’ll wear  a couple of shirts, multiple scarves, five bracelets, a floppy hat and be naked from the waist down. Whatever outfit she chooses to throw together, she owns it whether she’s prancing in the backyard with her dog or chasing Oma Crystal around the living room. She started talking early and by two, she was belting out classics such as “The Wheels on the Bus” like a young diva or holding a small notepad and pencil while asking, “May I take your order?”  when pretending to be a waiter at her parents’ bar and restaurant, the Cavalier.

Sunny & Crystal at The Cavalier’s Wickie Walkup
Musical Sunny Bunny

Her grandpa Ric, who died of cancer before she was born, was the most soulful, wise, and loving human I’ve ever known. He had a smile reminiscent of Paul Newman’s grin in Cool Hand Luke. His joie de vivre lit up his whole face and shone through his mischievous eyes.

Sunny smiles like Grandpa Ric and she laughs like Oma Crystal, explosive and free. The way she greets a friends with a sweet-toned, “You want to play with me” reveals her big, generous heart, and the way she says good-bye with a hug shows her exuberant love. 

Every time I see her smile it’s like I won the Trifecta in the day’s biggest race. I always greet her as “Sunny Bunny! Sunny Bunny!” in a bouncy voice because she’s 26 pounds of laughs and smiles and JOY. 

I met my third “practice grandchild” the day she was born. Two years ago Natalie, Jaco’s mom, had a midwife help her deliver Gillespie, and I was lucky to be her first visitor because I picked up Jaco to give his parents a few hours of rest.

Guppy has large brown eyes that watch the world intensely. She took her time getting used to me. Like her brother, she surveyed me from her mom’s BabyJorn carrier. She did not smile as quickly as Jaco did. I had to earn Guppy’s smiles. During our dog park walks, I’d chat with Jaco about ladybugs and cacti. We’d find cool sticks to use as canes or drum sticks. And his little sister listened and watched, taking it all in and waiting for the time she’d have lots to say. The first time she called me, “Gingah,” it was barely above a whisper and she looked embarrassed by my huge smile and watery eyes. When she started walking she revealed her bold adventurous side. Her curiosity pulled her toddling ahead of us on the dirt trail. Soon she’d be climbing through a hole in a fence or chasing a butterfly without a thought of us. 

She first showed her trust in me at a playground this past fall. She held my hand and guided me to the bright yellow plastic slide and let me help her up the steps before she went down the slide backwards and head first- a daring toddler full of confidence.

This Easter I dyed eggs with my “practice grandchildren” in Crystal’s backyard. Sunny, as hostess, made sure we all had enough Annie’s cheddar bunnies. Jaco sat next to me and reminded me of Lightning McQueen’s best scenes as he carefully placed eggs in blue, green, purple, and pink cups of dye. Guppy sat across from her brother and often dropped her eggs on the wooden picnic table where they cracked, so she’d start to peel the boiled egg, giving more attention to eating than coloring. Natalie, Crystal, and I used white crayons to draw flowers, stars, polka dots, and names on the pre-dyed eggs. The artistic dying of eggs interested the kids for 30 minutes before Sunny led her company to the yard’s sandbox and toy cars and trucks and a bubble machine. I felt honored to share an Easter tradition with my three favorite kids. No matter what trouble the news focuses on, I have hope that my “practice grandchildren” will continue to make the world sweeter, brighter, and better.

Posted in Grandmother

Sam

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This story was written seven years ago upon the birth of my Grandson, Sam.

 

Sam.  Sam is on my mind.  Sam is my new Grandbaby and he is the absolute sweetest, most pure piece of God that I have ever seen.

I always doubted myself as a mother…wondering what, if anything, I was doing right and exactly how many things was I doing wrong? (the list continues)  But, now that I’m a Grandmother, I want the list to stop.

This is my opportunity to just “love”.  I don’t want to keep score, or make second guesses or lay awake at night in fear of doing “it” wrong.  I want this opportunity to let my daughter be herself and be the mother she was meant to be.  I want this chance to just love them…as they are, without criticisms, doubts or worry.  I only want acceptance, delight, gratitude, hugs, cookies and sweet dreams.

Do I know that life is always unpredictable?  Yes.  Should I be prepared for ups and downs and times that are so hard, that you think your heart will break?  Absolutely.  But, now I have Sam.  I know him.  I have smelled his sweet baby smell and breathed it in like a life-preserver.  I already love him and I look forward to our journey together.  Nannie and Sam.

 

Happy Birthday dear Sam!  The time passes too quickly…

Posted in Friendship

Little People….Big Conversations

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Written by:  Nancy Malcolm

Recently, I had the privilege of driving with two of my grandsons in the car.  I was instantly reminded of days gone by when my daughters were younger and I would be taking one of them and a friend somewhere.  Oh, the conversations they would have!

But, as life has unfolded, we are a true blended family now, my husband and I.  We each maintain good relationships with our ex-spouses and often, we are all together at family events because of our children.

On this particular drive, one of the boys asked me, “Did you know PaPa used to be married to Nana?”  The other one, in shock said, “They did not….did they?”  I said that yes, I knew that and before I could go any further, they were into a discussion about life, divorce and marriage.  I proceeded to explain the situation in simple terms, but as we all know, it’s not a simple matter.  Still, as we drove, I was glad they felt comfortable enough to ask me questions and to share their thoughts.

A big part of me is gut wrenchingly sad that these two precious boys even know about divorce, but life rarely fits into a cookie cutter mold of perfection.  I wish I could make their little lives smooth, peaceful and worry-free forever.  I know I cannot control other people’s behavior or tell them how to live their lives; however, I can trust in a power greater than myself to take care of these boys and send blessings their way.  I can be a loving Nannie and be the best grandparent I can be.  I can provide a safe and accepting home for visits and car ride discussions.

And as is the case with little boys, as suddenly as that conversation started, it ended and their latest Lego purchase took center stage.  Just for today, I can let go of worry and enjoy the ride.

Posted in Friendship

Space by Nancy Malcolm

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Space.  Somewhere between right and wrong.  Somewhere between what you thought you knew and the truth.  There always seems to be space, or a breath, a whisper, a blink.  There is always this place where life really lives.

There’s space between words..”I love you.”  “I love you too.”  Or space between “How are you?” and “fine.” Sometimes there are so many words within that space just begging to come out, but not knowing how.

When my grandson was born I noticed a new space.  The space between his nose and lips… that tender dip and the space on the back of his neck where the sweet spot is.  That miracle of life space, that we all start out with, but sometimes forget we have.

I love the space my husband and I share when one of our girls is telling a story and we glance across the room at each other and smile or laugh.  That space within the glance that says, ‘I’m happy’ or ‘We are so blessed’.  I can also dread space.  The space between life and death…the minutes or days of slowing breath and closed eyes.  The space between a relationship ending or beginning.

The space between love and hate; happiness and despair…it’s such a fine line, a space of time.  A thought or prayer or beat of your heart.  There’s space between being…space between lovers who are breathing the same breath.  Or the lonely space when love has gone away.

Ever hear that phrase, “I need my space?”  I believe we all do…we need our space.  Space brings us near…it pushes us away…it is the creator of life full circle.  It is a good thing, this space thing.