Sunday, August 7, 2016


Harmony and Alannah 

My granddaughter, Alannah, sings, dances, and blows soap bubbles in her front yard often.  She and her sister Harmony like to pretend my car can talk.  Alannah jumps up through sprinklers even when she’s in her best dress; she leaps for joy when something fun is happening; she lights up the room with her smile.  Every time she sees me she jumps up and down and says “Is it Friday?” (I watch the girls every Friday).  She embodies love and innocence and she makes me wish she would stay this age forever. 
Alannah runs through the fountains - Downtown Chico Plaza

Today Alannah turns the magical age of five—the gateway to the elementary years that are so crucial to the child’s development.  She can’t wait to start kindergarten, which will take place in only a few short weeks.

Alannah one day old -
I had to catch a plane back to Johannesburg
I remember the day she was born.  My daughter, Alicia, expected to deliver her baby a week earlier, but Alannah stayed put where she was safe and warm.  As much as I didn't want to rush things, I knew I had two weeks in America -- I thought it would be one week before the birth and one week after.

Alannah came on August 8, after Alicia labored for nearly thirty-four hours.   She had lost a lot of blood and the doctors were watching her carefully, but as soon as she saw her daughter, the light in her eyes was restored.  Alannah was born beautiful, big, and healthy and we all breathed a lot easier.  But because she came two weeks late, I had to go back to South Africa the very next day.  

In her hospital room the very next day, I kissed Alicia goodbye and left to catch a plane.  I had held Alannah only two days before I had to leave. On the plane ride home, I wept, feeling the powerful ache to be on the same continent as our daughter and her babies.  I felt like an amputee who still feels the phantom pain of a severed limb.  I asked God for wisdom and direction - and grace to get through this.

A grandchild is God’s gift to you, a grace that comes after years of raising your own children.  It is an interesting paradox that while I expected a lot from my own children, I expect nothing from my grandkids.  Their lives are miracles, unfolding before me day by day – and because those days in Africa were not so long ago – I do not take any time we have together as a family for granted. 

“Grandma, are we going to the Yo-yo museum?” Alannah will ask me on most Fridays.  “Can we go have Jon and Bon’s? Can we go play with the Calico Critters, just for a short time?”  I will do anything she says, even go to an Ice Cream store when I no longer eat sugar. 

“What do you want for your birthday?” I asked her a few weeks ago.  We were in Bird in Hand, a beautiful store in downtown Chico that sells high-end toys made in America and Europe. 

“I want this whole store!” she said, gleefully.  "I really want a birthday party, where everyone will sing Happy Birthday to me!”  She hugged herself and glowed with the same emotional glitter that her Mama possessed at that age.  It make s me sigh and shake my head, pleased that she is Alannah and I get to love her.  

I can do nothing but acquiesce, since Alannah brings our the joy in everyone she meets.  

Happy Birthday, Alannah!  You are the joy that makes life effervescent.

Alannah getting ready to go out and have Mexican Food