Sophie is lucky. Several weeks ago was Grandparents’ Day at her preschool and she had four grandparents present, including two from Baltimore. I was lucky, too. Most of my childhood was spent with four grandparents present in my life. At the time, I didn’t realize how lucky I was. They were simply a part of my life, as normal as oatmeal with brown sugar, Saturday morning cartoons, wild onions stuffed in a Mason jar. One of my earliest memories is of a birthday. It was my fourth (or fifth? I can’t remember). I got a bike, with training wheels, light blue, I think, with a white basket with plastic flowers attached to it. The details are fuzzy but I distinctly remember riding down the sidewalk, listening to my Grandpa Mangan encourage me, cheer me, push me on. “Go, Kara, go!” “Go, Kara, go!”
Sophie is now 4. I hope she remembers her grandparents—all of them—taking time out of their busy lives to be with her, for a couple hours. To watch her paint, do work, wash her hands, eat a snack, sing a song. Of course she won’t remember the details, but hopefully, she’ll simply remember their presence, their love.
Whenever Sophie and I used to have a good day—a really good day—I would become so sad at the thought that she’ll never remember. She’ll never remember me curing her newborn tears by dancing—crazily, swinging—wildly, singing—loudly to “Build Me Up Buttercup” (which she loved) in our old house. She’ll never remember nursing (which, I suppose, at 15 she’ll be glad she doesn’t but still …). She’ll never remember sleeping on my chest, or the first time she saw a giraffe or the time she and Andy rolled down a snowy hill after a terrible attempt at sledding. But I believe, and maybe I’m wrong but I truly believe, all the actions and inactions, words and quietness, dancing and stillness of her early years somehow became embedded deep inside her brain. She will never remember the details, I know. But I have to believe, deep in her consciousness, she will know, feel, that she was loved. And that will help shape who she is, who she becomes, how she will, someday, love.
So thank you, Mom, Dad, Marty and Jill, for being there. And Sophie, I hope you remember. If not, I hope you someday read this and know. You were loved. You are loved. And not just by us. Or your brothers. But the circle reaches farther. And farther still (as it should, for every child). Love like that. Live like that. Be there. Remember.
“Everyone needs to have access both to grandparents and grandchildren in order to be a full human being.”—Margaret Mead