Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Lilliana Grace
at Mahaffie’s Historic Stagecoach Stop and Farm in Olathe 

When you love someone, really love someone, you want to know everything about them.  This used to apply mostly to Mario – the love of my life –as I tried to learn everything about him in order to love him better.

The older I get, the more this principle applies to my grandchildren.  It is especially true for Lilliana Grace, my enigmatic granddaughter who is happier to observe most conversations than participate in them.  Because I want so very much to know her, I spy on her.  

To be part of her world, I have researched Josh and Tyler, watched several Jack Septic-Eye videos and know who segue-way Steve is.  I know which emojis describe her.  I know that she has incredible relationships with colors because she is an artist (and how she prefers to wear certain hues while she paints her room dark)  

Because I love her, I want to know everything about her.  

Beautiful Lilliana

The last time we spent significant time together (this past August), I figured out something else beautiful and significant about Lilli: she remembers things.  She can store  details and facts that “normal” kids forget. Random things that we heard in passing, or trivial details about a destination and kept track 

We took a trip to Mahaffie’s Historic Stagecoach Stop and Farm in Olathe on perhaps the most beautiful day of summer.  I sighed as we walked down to the coach.

“This is so beautiful, isn’t it?”  I motioned to the rolling sorghum fields, the red barn in the distance and the Poplar trees, whose leaves were blowing in the warm breeze. 

“Did you know that Olathe means ‘beautiful’ in another language?” Lilli asked, looking up at me. 

“Does it?” I asked, smiling.  The air was so warm and the sky was so blue and that day will forever be etched into my heart because Lilli glowed with summer as she told me. 

It turns out that Olathe does literally translate to “beautiful” in the Shawnee tongue.  When Dr. John Barton arrived in the spring of 1857,  the prairie was covered with verbena and other wild flowers. Barton asked his Shawnee guide how to say “beautiful” in his native language. The interpreter responded, “Olathe.”

Last Christmas!! Lilli in striped shirt in front
Because Lilli lives with her siblings (Max and Lauren) in Kansas and Mario and I live in California, our relationship is not the traditional Grandparent-grandchild type.  My own Grandma lived in the same city as I did as we grew up – she wore only dresses, didn’t drive a car, and hung her wash on a clothesline.  She baked cookies and sang songs in Spanish.  I loved her deeply and still think of her as a driving force in my life, an inspiration.  I want to be that kind of my Grandma to my Grandchildren, but today things are more complicated.  Lilli has four sets of grandparents – and we are the furthest away. 

But love knows no boundaries.  Love has the power to skip over natural barriers as easily as stones skip over water.  Lilli is in my daily prayers and I carry her with me wherever I go.  Because she is so incredibly valuable to me, I will continue to learn about her and find new reasons to love her.

Today, our Lilli will blow out candles on a birthday cake and the glow of her candles will light up her face like she lights up the world.

Happy Birthday, Lilli.  I hope you know that I do see you, even when you think I can’t, I do.  You are amazing, creative, brilliant, and loving.  I am so proud of you, honey.

 Oh! And BTW – did you know that your name, Lilliana means “beauty” in another language?  True story.  

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