Posted in Grandmother

The reach of a small moment

I am beyond thrilled to have my lovely friend, The Empress, from Good Day, Regular People, as this week’s Small Moments Mondays guest poster.

I initially met The Empress when she left her first thoughtful comment on my blog this past summer. I was immediately struck by her kindness.  I promptly visited her blog and realized that she’s incredibly funny.  As I continued to read her words, I learned that she is also both strong and tender.

I was at brunch recently with a group of lovely bloggy friends and at one point during our meal, the conversation turned to The Empress.  It was as though a collective happy sigh came over the group when her name came up. Words like supportive, kind, funny, generous, loving, encouraging, and amazing floated about the table. The Empress is truly a hug personified.

The story that she has written for Small Moments Mondays is a precious gift.  When I first read it, I felt guilty about accepting it and was tempted to encourage her hold onto it, to keep it close and post it on her own blog.

This post is that special.

Ultimately, I trusted that she truly believed that she had found a good home for her story and for that I am incredibly honored.

Thank you, Empress.  I am so grateful for your generosity and friendship. Much love to you.

The Reach of a Small Moment – by The Empress

De la Sierra Morena
Cielito Lindo, vienen bajando
Un par do ojitos negros
Cielito lindo, de contrabando

From the Sierra Mountains
My beautiful sky, they come down
A pair of blackest eyes
Pretty little heaven, which I cannot have

I am sitting cross legged on the carpeted floor, playing with the doll my Spanish grandmother has bought me. She is sitting behind me, singing softly while she slowly runs a wide toothed comb, that she every now and then dips into a mason jar of rhubarb water, through my jungle of curly almost black hair. She sings this song to me every time she combs my hair. Always, so patiently, she works her way through the mat of hair on my head. The song above, if you’ve never heard it, has a sweet, slow, lulling melody.

The intention of the rhubarb water, boiled down to a thick juice made out of what she grows in her garden, is to give highlights to my hair. “Now, when you go outside to play in the sun, your hair will turn into Shirley Temple rings,” I hear her promise me in Spanish. She is taking the smallest sections of my hair, wetting it with the rhubarb water, and then curling it around her little finger. When she is done, I do look like a latin Shirley Temple.

She asks me with her soft, slow voice to please help her up, if it’s not too much trouble, from where she has been sitting. My grandmother speaks to me with the utmost of manners, always. I am only 4, but she makes me feel as if she is part of a court of ladies that tend to me. My grandmother walks me to the mirror in the front hallway, and stands behind me while she has me look at myself.  “Those dark eyes, you have such beautiful dark eyes. And the most wonderful laugh. You are like a little doll, you are a munequita.”  I smile shyly back at myself. She makes me believe her.

There is peace at my grandmother’s hand, and in her arms. She embraces me and I am lost to everything that is the ugly mess around me. Everything that happens outside of her arms is gone in that moment of being in her embrace. I want to stay between those arms, with my head buried and my eyes closed, and my ears covered, all inside her arms.

As I  am writing this morning, about these small moments in our lives, I can see from the distance of years, the power a moment contains.  The morning retold above occurred in 1965, 2 years before my father would have committed suicide on Thanksgiving Day, when I was in the first grade. The morning above occurred on a day when my clinically depressed mother would have spent another usual day of not looking at us, not making eye contact with us, not speaking to us.

The power of the small moment that my grandmother created for me, without her knowing, has carried me to this day. I still feel how she had me convinced that even though there were 6 of us born to my mother, it was me, who was the special one. It was me who was the most loved one.

She had the gift of making you feel like you were the only one that mattered.

When she passed away, my siblings and I had to laugh as one by one, at her funeral, we each confided to one another, “You know, I was her favorite.”  Fools, I knew deep down it was me who was loved the most by her.

I found the song above, “Cielito Lindo,” on YouTube this morning, and played it. I can be so slow sometimes, I should have known. I had to click on the red X in the top right corner after only the second verse. I couldn’t listen to more, the emotion brought on by hearing that melody with those lyrics was so strong that the tightening in my throat literally became physically painful.

Did my grandmother know she created this small moment? I don’t know. Did she know that from this morning in 1965, I’d be writing of that same moment in 2010, 45 years later?

Would she have known the reach of a small moment?

This makes me stop and think and look at my children, with eye contact, and with words heard, and with words returned, with full burying embraces, I want to give my children moments that will reach to the year 2050 and beyond.

Now that you’ve seen just how amazing The Empress is, be sure to read some of my favorite funny posts, Fresh Pots! and When Someone You Love Has a Blog, Parts 1, 2, and 3.

And don’t miss Yield to It, a post that speaks to all of the small moments in our lives.

A Repeat Performance and Separation Anxiety

We have always gloated about loved the fact that Katie is a champion sleeper.  If there was an Olympic event for sleeping, she would take the gold.  She goes to bed at 7:30pm and doesn’t wake until 7am.  She also still naps from 1pm-3:30/4:00pm.  We are blessed.  {Please don’t hate us–Matthew is another story entirely.}

She used to lunge for her crib at bedtime and has always put herself to sleep.  For the first couple of years of her life, we lured her into her bed by making it the only place where she could have her pacifier.  When we took her pacifier away at 21 months, we replaced it with a little pillow, her first blanket, and some stuffed kitties, all of which we allow her to have only while in bed.  Things have been smooth sailing until about a month ago.

Now there is major drama every time we put her down to sleep.  She’s doing this new thing where, when I leave the room and I am closing the door, she says, “Goodnight, Mommy.  I love you.”  I then tell her goodnight and that I love her too.  I close the door and she repeats the process.  At first I indulged her, thinking that she would tire of this routine once she knew I was on the other side of the door.  But it has completely gotten out of hand.  One night I did it nine times.  NINE!  We now tell her that we’ll say it once and then we’re going downstairs to “pick up” (code for relaxing.)

When we don’t follow the script the second, third, and fourth times, she flips out, and goes from choked up to bawling in 3.2 seconds.  While she typically only cries for five to ten minutes and then falls asleep,  nothing makes me feel worse as a parent than having her cry herself to sleep.  We’ve always tried to ensure that her bed is a safe, secure, and happy place.

She’s also showing some distress if she thinks that one of us may be leaving to run an errand or something.  She  quickly escalates from nervous to panicky.

We’ve had an emotional, chaotic past couple of weeks, with uncharacteristic breaks in our routine, but these insecurities were present prior to that.

{We have chosen not to speak with her about Craig’s mother’s death, as we don’t believe that she is emotionally mature enough to process that yet.  Since she is incredibly attentive and observant, we have been careful to shield her from our discussions.}

I distinctly remember when I was a child, I was fearful to be the last one awake.  I would call to my mother repeatedly to ensure that she hadn’t fallen asleep.  I’m still this way.  When Craig shows signs of being tired, I stop whatever I’m doing and hurry to bed.  I’ve not really analyzed why I am this way, I’ve just accepted it.

But this thing with Katie is sudden and intense.

Has anyone else gone through this?  We never saw any anxiety in her when she was younger and we thought that we might be out of the woods now that she’s three.

Help? Reassurance? Tips?

So Much to Say

In the hours that I’ve spent at Craig’s mother’s bedside, I have found it difficult to be silent.

She alternates between moments of alertness, making eye contact and nodding in response to questions, and moments of unconsciousness. She is in there still…and she is trapped. You can see that she has much that she’d like to say, but she cannot speak.

So I talk to her and for her. I talk about her grandchildren, her sons, her friends. I retell stories that she has shared with me–stories of her youth.

I continually ask her if she wants me to talk and she always nods yes.

But, I can’t help but wonder if she’d appreciate it if I was just silent for a bit, or maybe if I would just slow down and let the memories wash over her, like warm sunshine on her face.

I find myself going on and on, afraid of the silences, afraid to waste one precious minute of the time that we have left, afraid that she will go and I will have some little thing that I want to share with her.

I tell her that I am eternally grateful for her son. I tell her that he is strong and true. Patient and handsome. Loyal and tender. (She knows all these things, but I tell her all the same.)

I tell her that Katie grows more confident every day and that she loves gymnastics.

I tell her that Matthew has turned into an impossibly happy baby and that he adores his sister.

I tell her how her granddaughter Keelin has an eclectic spirit that illuminates any room.

I tell her how her grandson Zai is turning into such a fine young man, intelligent and kind, silly and serious.

I don’t tell her that I am scared that I wont know how to help her son when she passes.

But, I do tell her that he is safe with me, that I will figure it out, and that I’ll never let go of his hand.

So That You May Know Her…

Dear Katie and Matthew,

Your grandmother is lying in a hospital bed tonight and she is dying. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, but very soon.

Daddy is with her, holding her hand and telling her just how much we all love her.

Neither of you will remember her and that breaks my heart.

There is so much about her that I want you both to know.

She was dynamic. She could quote Shakespeare, discuss philosophy, and sing and play the guitar. Daddy tells a childhood story of camping with her–he remembers her sweet voice singing over the crackling of the campfire. I wish I could have heard that.  I wish you could have heard that.

She was eclectic. I will never forget the outfit she wore to your Uncle Todd’s graduation. She was dressed from head to toe in the most vibrant shade of turquoise, complete with floppy hat and arms adorned with bangle bracelets that just sparkled in the sunlight. She was lit from within in that wild outfit and it suited her beautifully.

She was intelligent. She was a well-respected trauma nurse who pursued her education while raising three young boys. She saw so much in her days as a nurse that made her even more compassionate and empathetic.

She was kind. She was quick to tell you why you were special to her. She was so generous with her words and never missed an opportunity to tell you exactly what made you unique. Sometimes, she would make me blush with her compliments, but I always appreciated and welcomed them.

She was whimsical. She loved astrology and loved to tell you what your sign meant and how it impacted you. Daddy and I would roll our eyes, but that didn’t stop her–she believed it and it was endearing.

She was the most optimistic person I’ve ever known. Her glass, even in the most difficult of times, was always half full. When life dealt her a terrible hand, she found inner strength that astonished us.

She will live on in your daddy, who is the man that he is because of her. She taught him to be a gentleman, to be kind and courteous. It was from her that he learned how to treat women and how to respect others.

I want you each to know that she loved you. She was so happy to have grandchildren and you made her just light up. She exuded happiness when she spoke of all of the fun that you would have with her as you grew and I’m so sorry that you won’t have that opportunity. She would have caused all sorts of fun trouble with you.  She truly looked forward to being, in her words, “your partner in crime.”

I am so truly sorry that you didn’t have the opportunity to know her.

I promise to share all of my stories with you. I will do all that I can to keep her alive in my memory so that I can share her with you both.

She has had such a rough time of it. Now it is time for us to wish her peace.

With all of my love,
Mommy

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
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