On Thursday, Henry James and his mommy were released from the hospital. On their way home, they stopped by the farm. Great-Grandma Betty was ready and waiting, perched in her rocking chair, arms open. Henry is her eighteenth great-grandchild.
Most days G’ma, as our chids know her, sits in the front room of the farm house where she’s lived for fifty-some years. Almost always you will find one of her daughters with her, often a grandchild or two as well. But nothing brightens her up like a visit from a great-grandchild.
I stood to the side to watch as she received Henry, relaxing as he settled into her arms. She held him like a priceless gift; so tenderly. This has been a precious season, Henry being the fourth great-grandchild of the past eight months. So much sweetness.
Friday afternoon I held Henry for a couple of hours while his mommy took a nap. The house was quiet; his daddy out on errands. Henry was quiet, swaddled tight and tucked up under my chin. And I was quiet. Breathing deeply. Perfectly content.
Such is the power in the presence of a newborn babe: this small corner of the world is unblemished.
Granted, I am a newly minted GiGi, but it seems grandparenting is an incredible second chance. Not to do over or do things “right.” Circumstances are different; the parenting window has closed, no matter how many regrets I may have. It is a second chance to say yes, consistently; to be present in the moment. To slow down. To spend single-minded time with another.
My sister says that aging is God’s gracious way to remind us that we won’t be here forever. I think she is right. To that I will add: midst the struggle with that harsh reality, grandparenting may well be his most precious gift.
Grandparenting, it seems, is a most privileged position, one or maybe two generations removed. We have both responsibility and flexibility to bless the next generation. Raising babies is an exhausting and expensive endeavor. Grandparents are perfectly placed to help alleviate some of the strains and pressures of parenting. We open our hearts, arms, homes, and wallets with great pleasure.
At GiGi’s house, it happily turns out, cooking and cleaning will wait ’til tomorrow. There are only other adults here. They will deal. Meanwhile, I enter a state of bliss, Henry or Ollie asleep in my arms. Heaven must be be quite something to be better than this. I am abundantly blessed, so thankful for this glimpse.
Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.
I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
and your wonderful miracles.
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy about your righteousness.
~ René Morley