Recently, our family experienced a miracle. We were given the gift of a baby girl named Mia, a first grandchild for us. It is truly a wonderful feeling to hold that baby in your arms for the first time (and a second, and a third…).
This momentous occasion made me think about my parents when they became grandparents many years ago upon the birth of my niece. That niece, Kim, is to be married in a couple of weeks, and I wrote this short story as a dedication to her and to all loving grandparents.
It was love at first sight, as would be expected for first-time grandparents, or any grandparents, for that matter. The couple, in their early fifties at the time, were thrilled about the idea of having a grandchild, and the event was much anticipated and eventually celebrated.
The grandfather, a quiet, hard-working man, couldn’t get enough of the baby girl. She was the apple of his eye, and, as she grew, they developed a special bond.
Proximity and time were advantages for them. Both homes acted as bookends for a family farm. The grandfather would conveniently amble over for a visit at least once a day, eagerly watching the newborn develop into a small, walking, talking person. Being retired didn’t hurt either. His time was his own.
The grandmother was amused when her husband would casually state he was going out for some fresh air. Through the side window she would see him walk towards the neighboring house. Air, fresh or otherwise, was unimportant. A short time later, he would make the return trip with a toddler holding tightly to his hand, her free arm waving as she babbled, full of stories and questions.
More often than not, they would stop along the way and find ‘gifts’ to deliver to the grandmother, who would, in turn, gush over the simple but heartfelt present. It depended on the season, of course. Winter gifts were scarce, but the other seasons created an abundance of flowers, berries, and colorful fallen leaves.
Beside the grandparent’s house, a large lilac tree resided, and its spring blooms were magnificent. A favorite for the child and her grandfather, the clippings would hold a place of much importance in the center of the kitchen table, their scent filling the small house.
A little over three years after that baby’s birth, the grandfather suddenly passed away, leaving the little girl confused by his absence and this strange rite of passage.
Many years passed, more babies came along, good times and bad rolled by, and the grandmother ultimately joined her husband, leaving her precious grandchildren behind. The baby girl grew up with her own share of trials and triumphs, but always with that strong base from which she had evolved.
One day, she met a man who made her truly happy, the man she chose as her life mate, and, when the time came, she delightedly accepted his marriage proposal. On the big day, the girl’s heart was full, she was surrounded by people who cared for her, and she was with the man she loved.
It was a beautiful late-summer setting. The leaves were on the cusp of changing colors. In a few weeks they would be glorious. As the ceremony began, under a richly-decorated outdoor gazebo, the left hand of the future husband encompassed the girl’s right.
Suddenly distracted, the girl frowned and turned her head cautiously to the left and the right, catching the attention of both her sister and her soon-to-be husband.
Had she imagined it? It’s late August. Where had it come from?
Yet, there it was, drifting around her, wrapping her in its scent, like a hug. She released a shaky breath. The girl knew she had been sent a message, telling her she was loved, and she would never be alone.
The sweet smell of Lilacs surrounded her.