In approximately four months my daughter is going to call and tell me that she has been admitted to the hospital. I will not pass go or collect $200 on my way to Southwest.com where I will book myself on the next available flight to Oregon. As I run out the door I will grab my pre-packed suitcase and camera equipment and hope I make it in time to welcome my first grandbaby into this wide and curious world.
Whether I make it or not, one thing is certain: a baby changes everything. My little heart, once removed.
When I was pregnant with my first I was too busy earning the last credits I needed in Economics to worry about what kind of mother I would be. I had a general idea. But now that idea stands like weathered brick, the vines of love and regret and hope all tangled and grown over. This will be different. I suspect that with this baby of the grandest variety, time won’t press but will, instead, pass in incremental coos and smiles and chocolate milk-mustached kisses.
This is the kind of grandma I hope to be:
the kind with a stash of Junior Mints hidden away in a tin that she knows well
the kind who favors rocking her to sleep over a hot meal
the kind who reads books and plays chase and has tea parties
the kind who never steps on mom and dad’s toes
the kind who volunteers first to babysit
the kind who tucks five dollars into a card for no reason at all
the kind who sends little things–bubbles and barrettes and bouncy balls–in packages addressed just to her
the kind who tells bedtime stories when she visits
the kind who plants a love for Jesus through actions, not words
the kind with warm cookies and tall glasses of milk
the kind who sends gifts that prove I know her
the kind who writes recipes on a card and passes them down
the kind with a nativity scene that she can play with
the kind who reprimands gently, and fiercely loves
the kind who looks the other way when peas are fed to the dog
the kind who can be counted on to send both an advent calendar and ornament every year
the kind known for homemade chicken noodle soup and biscuits from scratch
the kind she’ll look up to and lean on and trust
I should come naturally by it; the women in my life–they love.
I say the word aloud and it doesn’t feel right. Grandma. It smells like peppermint. It tastes like cotton. It sounds like the squeak of a rocking chair and the steady tap of knitting needles. It feels gray and frail and wrapped in a quilt.
I want a name that smells like summer and tastes like marshmallows. I want it to sound like crickets and the crackle of a campfire. I want it to feel like sand through her toes with the rush of the tide sneaking up.
I’m not sure yet what it’ll be. I’ve heard some good ones: Woody and Grinny and Mimi. I like Fizzy for me and Pop-Pop for Jeff but that was quickly shot down. Sigh. I think it’s cute.
This much I know: grandma is just a word. It’s the life in her–the love–that counts.