I became a grandmother for the first time 11 years ago. Her name is Raina and she is a beautiful granddaughter, with her mother’s soulfulness and her father’s kind heart. I thought I knew what I was in for when she came into my life, but I was so ill prepared, it was not even funny. My daughter had miscarried three times before Raina was born, so she is our “miracle” baby. I knew I was in love before she even arrived, but I never knew how much I would miss her, until I met her. You see, I am a long distance Grandma. Raina lives in California and I live in North Carolina.
I had the round trip ticket purchased, and I had a week set aside to take vacation, but she had to arrive on time, or at least 48 hours around the projected due date, or I was going to have to adjust my time off. Not the easiest request when you work for an attorney who was going to be at his wit’s end without help for ten working days. Things have a way of working themselves out, and this did. I got the call from my son-in-law that they were on their way to the hospital and I was good for nothing at work until I got the call that she arrived, all 8 pounds of her.
When I met Raina, she was all dressed in pink, laying in the center of her mom and dad’s bed, dozing of course. I embraced her mom, both of us crying in the joy of arrival of this baby. After all the pain her mom had gone through, I thanked God for this precious bundle of life for both my son-in-law and my daughter. I laid down next to her so I could see her, so beautiful and so complete.
I spend a week and some days with them, helping cook and clean. I bathed and fed her, but was careful not to intrude on my daughter’s time with her new daughter. If she needed me, I was there, if she did not, I was happy to observe or take pictures to memorialize the moments for me. It was during this time, when I was bathing my granddaughter and dressing her after drying her little perfect body off, putting baby lotion all over, so she looked like a shiny doll, I started to realize, I was going to have to return to North Carolina. I was never so resistant to the idea of returning home, since I was a young teen. Being an adult, didn’t help, because to rationalize the thought of husband, job and home, was just not cutting it.
I really tried not to cry, for my daughter’s sake, but I had not experienced the depth emotion that overcame me as I said goodbye. I wept all the way to the airport and poor rental car people, probably thought I was having a nervous breakdown, but it was just new grandma trauma. Looking back now, I remember, I never regretted moving to North Carolina until just that moment.
In this life, you learn to be thankful for what you have. I have a healthy granddaughter. I have adjusted to being a long-distance grandma. Just this year, I spent time with Raina and was able to do the things “normal” grandmas do. I took cupcakes to her class the last days of school. I went to her swim lessons and her swim meets. I went to her playoff softball games at a time when her team went farther in the playoffs than any other time.
Raina has two sisters now and a cousin, so my grandmotherhood has expanded. When she was in first grade, she answered the house phone and told her mom it was grandma. Alicia asked her, Grandma Gloria or Grandma, my mom? Raina answered “Grandma your mom…Grandma who lives far, far away”.