With National Grandparents Day approaching, I'm taking a walk down memory lane. I'm celebrating the joy you've brought to our lives, especially to your four grandchildren. You've been "Gaga" for 22 years, since Molly Cate (the eldest and ringleader) dubbed you that at age 2. She had other grandmas, but only one Gaga (or Gagi when she was feeling silly). To this day, you sign the kids' cards "love, Gaga."
Well, Gaga, we've been through a lot with these children, haven't we? Remember when Molly "finger-painted" her bedroom from her messy diaper? Daddy took one look and suddenly remembered outdoor work that needed his attention. So I called you and between us, we scrubbed child and room clean (and laughed a lot along the way).
You couldn't forget when the kids all got chicken pox and Albie's turned to shingles? Doctors said a kid couldn't have shingles but you said "au contraire," knowing the symptoms from firsthand experience. Heedless of your own risk of shingles reinfection, you pitched in to help me. That took some chutzpah, Mom.
Then there was third-child Jake, the ever-curious accident waiting to happen. Remember the grandmothers' tea party I hosted at our mobile home park clubhouse? You took time off from work to attend. After the guests had left, I was cleaning up. The older two came running in saying they couldn't find Jakie.
Having no cellphone, I had to break into the clubhouse office to call 911. As the K-9 unit arrived to hunt him down, you came squealing into the parking lot (I swear that van was on two wheels). Jake had crawled into your van and fallen asleep. The bewildered boy knocked at your door. Aunt Jeanne opened it and yelled "Mom, Jake's here!" The conversation went as follows: You--"Jake who?" Jeanne--"Your grandson!" You--"Why is he here?" Jeanne--"I don't know. He doesn't either." Hence the hasty trip to return the wayward boy. What a fright, but we've laughed over it ever since.
Remember when the youngest, baby Emma, wanted to be born too early? I woke in a pool of blood from a placental abruption. You played ambulance driver, getting me and Albert to the ER. (The doctor chewed me out for putting you through that ordeal). You cared for me, my husband and my kids while I spent weeks in the hospital and on bed rest. We all have a healthy 14-year-old to show for it.
Our last two daughters, Mary Therese and Isobella Raine, didn't make it. You grieved so hard. I remember watching tears stream down your face as we said goodbye to them. You call them your two little ladies in heaven. I know they miss their Gaga, too.
Mama, saying "thanks" seems pretty inadequate. So I'll paraphrase from one of your favorite movies--"I will write across the sky in letters 100 feet tall--To Gaga, With Love."