Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Gift of Ramona

Grandchildren are a gift. I know many others have expressed that very statement, or words to that effect, but it is so true that I will say it again.

Grandchildren are a gift.

After months of anticipation, starting from the minute I learned that Alise was pregnant, and weeks of waiting as we made our reservations and the trip to Portland drew nearer, we finally met Ramona Dawn face to face.

She was worth every minute of the wait.

With my own children in their 20s, it had been many years since I had been with a baby for such long periods of time. I had forgotten a lot.

I had forgotten the warmth and heft of a baby. I had forgotten the way a baby stares into your eyes while taking a bottle. I had forgotten the way a baby burrows her head into your shoulder while struggling with sleep.

I had forgotten that a baby is pure love.

Everyone's grandchild is the world's most amazing grandchild, and mine is no exception. Ramona's smiles melt your heart. Her giggle is bright and infectious. She is alert and adorable and clearly the world's greatest grandchild.

Of course she is.

Ramona is acutely visually oriented, looking around with hard, fierce stares. She would swivel her head 360 degrees if possible to take the world in through her deep brown eyes. Sometimes I would laugh at the intensity of her gaze, watching her catalogue every new sight, starting with this strange lady who suddenly dropped into her life.

Preverbal, Ramona is equally fierce in her vocalizations. She squawks and growls and coos loudly and determinedly, stiffening her body and throwing out her arms when she really wants to make her point. She has started to learn inflections and verbal cues. I would ask, "So, what did you do today, Ramona?" and she would smile and chirp a reply. Ramona is not yet stringing together sounds, so there is no babbling as such, but she is close. I suspect that when words come, they will come in a torrent.

It was hard, as our week wore away, to realize that it will likely be many months before we see Ramona again. She will not be this baby again ever. I am envious of those of my friends who have grandchildren close at hand, sympathetic to the generations of grandparents who waved their loved ones goodbye and saw them off across a continent, across an ocean, across the world to somewhere else.

I cannot pretend that Ramona will remember me and Warren snuggling her, reading to her, giving her a bottle this visit. She will not remember her effervescent joy at seeing us each day or the way she lit up whenever we said her name and smiled at her. When we see her next, there will be another period of renewing our family ties. Ramona will have to learn anew our faces, the timbre of our voices, the way the shine of Grandpa Warren's blue eyes match the shine of her chocolate drop eyes, the fit of my lap as I hold her and read to her. Yes, next time Warren and I will meet a new baby, a new toddler, a new child.

But the love we have now, that we gave and received from Ramona every day of our trip, will be the constant thread. Love will thread together the gaps of time from one visit to the next, lace together our family. Love, love, love will bind us together tight and carry us into the future.


Nicholas said...

LOOK AT THAT BIG BABY! What a cutie.

Marcia said...

I loved seeing your photos...precious memories. Each time I see my granddaughters, they have changed so much, but each stage is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I so enjoyed this post! We are of the same age group and I am also part of Myelomaville- SCT last April and now on maintenance. We also just had our first grandchild -- a grandson in September--so they are about the same age! It is so great to see them & how much they change & gives a break to the medical world we live in. We are about 5 hours away but our younger daugher had lived in Portland, Oregon and just moved back east to be closer--the baby was the deciding factor. Continued best wishes on treatment & your beautiful granddaughter!

see you there! said...

Ramona is a blessing in your life and it seems she knew to come along just when you would need her. I still get tears in my eyes thinking of the first time I saw my Granddaughter and she's now a teenager.


Sharon said...

Ramona is precious! I'm so glad you were able to spend some time with her, April. We moved far away from my parents when my kids were little, but my parents made every visit count and my kids adore them! I will be in YOUR shoes very shortly as my daughter is expecting in October. She just happens to live many miles away (a 17 hour car ride) too. Besides the fact that I'm WAY too young to be a Grandparent, I'm already feeling the pain of the distance!